Beirut- Syrian opposition forces continued with their offensive against regime-held area in northern Aleppo, in a move aiming at lifting a long imposed siege against rebel-controlled neighborhoods. A counterattack was staged by regime forces and allies, with Russian air power targeting western rural areas of embattled Aleppo.
Fierce fighting has broken out in the al Zahra neighborhood of northwestern Aleppo.
The director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rami Abdulrahman said that Russian and Syrian warplanes pounded Aleppo’s western rural areas. Dozens were injured by brutal raids. The air raids targeted villages and countryside towns Friday night.
Syria’s second city, Aleppo has been devastated by some of the heaviest fighting of the country’s five-year civil war, which has killed more than 300,000 people. Fighting has also killed 30 regime and allied fighters, as well as 50 Syrian rebels, according to the Observatory.
“The advance will be from Dahiyet al-Assad towards Hamdaniyeh,” said Yasser al-Youssef of the Noureddin al-Zinki rebel faction.
Hamdaniyeh is a regime-held district directly adjacent to opposition-controlled eastern neighborhoods.
Fighting lasted all night and into Sunday, with air strikes and artillery fire along the western battlefronts heard even in the eastern districts, an AFP correspondent there said.
Plumes of smoke could be seen snaking up from the city’s skyline.
Aleppo’s front line runs through the heart of the city, dividing rebels in the east from regime troops in the west.
In late September, regime troops launched their own assault to recapture all of the eastern rebel-controlled territory. It was backed by fierce air strikes from Russia, which launched its own air war in 2015 to back regime-head Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
That onslaught spurred massive international criticism of both Moscow and Damascus.
Last week, Russia implemented a three-day “humanitarian pause” intended to allow civilians and surrendering rebels to leave Aleppo’s east, but few did so.