Syrian Army Advances in Aleppo

Government forces further push into Militant-held areas as Russia and China veto ceasefire plan for besieged Aleppo
A Syrian Army tank advancing in AleppoA Syrian Army tank advancing in Aleppo

Syrian government forces gained more ground in the battle for Aleppo on Monday, as Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that sought a seven-day truce in the city.

Three weeks into their offensive, the army and allied forces seized the Qadi Askar neighborhood overnight and were in control of about two-thirds of the former militant-held territory in east Aleppo.

“The Syrian government and its allies are now about 800 meters from the citadel ... They’re now in control of about 60% of what used to be the rebel-controlled east,” Al Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker said, reporting from Gaziantep along the Turkey-Syria border.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the latest advances had left the large al-Shaar neighborhood effectively encircled by government forces.

The observatory confirmed that the army was attacking both from inside east Aleppo as well as from the government-held western districts. It conceded that the opening of many fronts at the same time has drained the militants of ammunition.

The militants holding al-Shaar may be forced to abandon it or risk being cut off from the other areas.

According to the report, al-Shaar had effectively fallen since government forces seized nearby areas that control access to it.

President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have made steady gains since launching the assault to retake all of militant-held east Aleppo nearly three weeks ago. Its loss would mark the biggest defeat for militant forces in Syria’s five-year civil war.

Tens of thousands of east Aleppo residents have fled to other parts of the city to escape the fighting, which has raised widespread international concern.

Russia vetoed Monday’s resolution, arguing that ceasefire would allow the militants to regroup, and that time was needed for talks between Washington and Moscow.

Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had slammed the proposed temporary truce as a “provocative step”.

“Taking into account all aspects and the current development of the situation, the draft resolution coming against the backdrop of the Russian-American initiative is for the most part a provocative step that undermines Russian-American efforts,” Lavrov told a press conference.

He also said Moscow was confident that it would reach a deal with Washington in talks this week on the withdrawal of all militants from eastern part of the city, adding that fighters who refused to leave the city would be treated as “terrorists”.

Russia has said all militant groups must leave the area before it allows any access to humanitarian aid.

Militant fire on the government-held west of the city has killed 69 people, including 28 children, in the same period, the monitor says.


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