Syrian armed forces and allies have managed to seize control of a key district in the northwestern city of Aleppo, which has been a flash point over the past few months.
The Syrian army declared the full liberation of Hanano in eastern Aleppo on Saturday, hours after the forces launched a major offensive in the area.
A monitoring group based in Britain confirmed that the neighborhood was mostly under the control of the Syrian forces. The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which advocates militants operating in Syria, said Hanano was the first Aleppo neighborhood to fall into the hands of militants in 2012.
The recapture of the neighborhood comes 10 days after pro-government forces resumed an offensive on the city’s eastern part, which is under the control of militants.
Syrian forces have repeatedly halted the push to retake militant-held areas in order to allow civilians out of the neighborhoods and let in humanitarian access. Russia, which supports the Syrian ground forces through air cover, resumed airstrikes on militant positions on November 15.
Syria’s official news agency, SANA, said on Saturday that a fresh batch of civilians, most of them women and children, had left the militant-held parts of Aleppo.
SANA said nearly two dozen locals “from the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo that had been held hostage by the terrorist organizations exited the neighborhoods on Friday evening.” Syrian army units evacuated the civilians to safety, it added.
Nearly 300,000 people have been killed in the turmoil that has gripped Syria since March 2011, according to unofficial figures. The Syrian government blames the West and regional allies for the spread of militancy in the country, saying the terrorists could not have survived without support from certain countries such as Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.