DAMASCUS, Nov. 25 (Xinhua) — The Syrian army have captured large swathes of the largest rebel-held district in the northern city of Aleppo over the past 24 hours, a monitor group reported on Friday.
Battles, accompanied by intense shelling, have raged since midnight Thursday between the government forces and an array of rebel groups in Masaken Hanano, the largest rebel-held district in eastern Aleppo, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The UK-based watchdog said the Syrian forces captured over 60 percent of the neighborhood, which was also the first area stormed by rebels in eastern Aleppo in mid-2012.
Observers say capturing the Hanano area will expose the Sakhour neighborhood to the Syrian army, enabling it to isolate the northern part of the rebel-held areas in eastern Aleppo from the southern one.
The Observatory, which says it relies on a network of activists on ground, said the Syrian forces were achieving rapid progress in eastern Aleppo, where over 250,000 civilians are trapped.
For months, the Syrian government and Russia have been urging rebels to leave Aleppo, offering them safe passages to other rebel-held areas in the northwestern province of Idlib.
The rebels, however, turned down all offers, which has resulted in intensified violence.