Syrian rebels launch operation to break Aleppo siege

Damascus, Aug 1 (IANS) Rebel fighters in the Syrian city of Aleppo have launched a major military operation aimed at breaking a weeks-long regime siege of the opposition-controlled eastern part of the city, media reported on Monday.

At least 250,000 civilians are believed to be living in the rebel-controlled territory, and their plight has drawn growing international alarm. The area has been subjected to a brutal aerial campaign from the forces of President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian allies, The Guardian reported.

Syrian government troops imposed the siege after seizing high ground overlooking the Castello road, a vital artery and the only supply route into opposition territory from Turkey, which staunchly backs the opposition and has called for Assad’s overthrow.

Hundreds of opposition troops appear to be taking part in the multi-pronged offensive, launched across a wide front. Rebels say they have pushed back government forces across territory in the north and south of the city, taking control of areas that have been used as staging grounds for loyalist militias.

The campaign was launched on Sunday, on the eve of the 71st anniversary of the founding of the Syrian army.

The campaign is the largest military offensive launched by the rebels against government forces in years, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights described the campaign as saying.

Humanitarian agencies have repeatedly warned that food and medicine are running out in eastern Aleppo and the situation is deteriorating rapidly, with untold numbers of civilian casualties due to indiscriminate air strikes and shelling.

Aleppo, Syria’s largest province and once a thriving economic metropolis, has been witnessing violent clashes lately as the Syrian army advances against the rebels.

–IANS

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