70 persons killed as battles heat up in Aleppo

Damascus, June 15 (IANS) At least 70 jihadist fighters and military soldiers were killed over the past 24 hours during battles in Syria’s Aleppo province, a monitor group reported on Wednesday.

The Syrian army backed by Russian airstrikes has been engaged in intense battles against several jihadist groups in areas in the southern countryside of Aleppo since Tuesday noon, Xinhua news agency quoted the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as saying.

The Britain-based watchdog group said the government forces succeeded in recapturing several points and areas in Aleppo, after losing them to the rebels on Tuesday.

The recent battles are part of a major military showdown in Aleppo, whose biggest battles are still being prepared.

The Syrian army is expected to unleash a wide-scale offensive against the jihadi groups in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and once an economic hub.

While the Syrian army is busy battling the rebels in Aleppo, the US backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) rebels are engaged in battles against the Islamic State (IS) group in the city of Manbej, one of the last IS strongholds in Aleppo.

German and French special forces ave arrived in Aleppo to aid the SDF in their push against IS.

The observatory, which relies on a network of activists on ground, confirmed the reports, saying French and German military advisors were helping the SDF in the battle for Manbej.

The French Special Forces have started building a military base near the predominantly-Kurdish city of Ayn al-Arab, or Kobane, the second city after Manbej where the German and French fighters have arrived to, it said.

The SDF, a recently forged rebel group of Arab and Kurdish fighters and led by the Kurdish People Protection Units (YPG), has mounted an offensive in late May against key IS strongholds in northern Syria, mainly in the border city of Manbej and the northern countryside of al-Raqqa, the de facto capital of the IS.

The SDF has completely laid siege on Manbej and advanced against the IS, the reports said.

Syria’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said the presence of German and French special forces in northern Syria constitutes a flagrant violation to the sovereignty of the country.

In a statement, the ministry said the foreign forces’ presence in northern Syria’s towns of Ayn al-Arab and Manbej came under a false pretense of fighting terrorism.

“This can fool nobody,” the ministry said.

The ministry said countering terror needs coordination and cooperation with the legitimate government of Syria.

–IANS

py/vt

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