Assad's forces capture key hilltop near Aleppo
Syrian government forces and their allies captured strategic high ground in Aleppo yesterday as Russia - a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad - said it was not planning more "humanitarian pauses" in the city's eastern, rebel-held districts.
Fighting resumed in Aleppo over the weekend, following a days-long lull announced by Moscow that was meant to allow rebels and civilians to leave the eastern districts. The rebels rejected the Russian offer and none of the civilians left.
Government troops launched a fresh offensive and yesterday took the hilltop of Bazo on the southern edge of Aleppo, near military bases, and shelled the rebel neighbourhoods, according to opposition activists.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Bazo was taken. Both the Observatory and the Aleppo Media Centre, an activist collective, reported government shelling in eastern parts of the city.
A video released by the Syrian army showed tanks and cannons pounding rebel positions.
The state-run Sana news agency, meanwhile, said rebels shelled government-held neighbourhoods in western Aleppo, killing one person and wounding seven.
A pro-opposition media outlet circulated footage of a powerful Islamist rebel coalition known as Jaish al-Fatah announcing that the campaign to break the government's siege of the city's east would begin "within hours".