Syria government forces split rebel-held Aleppo in two

Syrian rebels have lost most of the northern neighbourhoods in besieged east Aleppo, a monitor said on Monday, as the army pushed an offensive to retake the whole of Syria’s second city.

The army captured the Sakhour, Haydariya and Sheikh Khodr neighbourhoods on Monday, while Kurdish forces took the Sheikh Fares district from rebels, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Kurdish forces in Aleppo are not officially allied with the Bashar al-Assad’s government in Damascus, but the opposition regards them as cooperating with the government in a bid to recapture the city.

Aleppo’s rebel-held Jabal Badro captured by the army

“The rebels have lost control of all the neighbourhoods in the north of east Aleppo, and this is their worst defeat since they seized half the city in 2012,” said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.

Syrian state news agency SANA reported the capture of Haydariya and Sakhour as it looped footage showing some of the thousands of civilians who have fled east Aleppo in recent days as loyalist troops have advanced.

The army renewed an operation to retake eastern Aleppo nearly two weeks ago, hoping to deal the opposition a potentially devastating blow.

“Yesterday was the worst day we’ve witnessed since the war started. More than 1,500 families have fled to the regime-controlled west of the city. The bombing is horrific,” Ibrahim Abu Leith, Aleppo-based spokesman for the Civil Defense, told Al Jazeera. 

The city, which was Syria’s biggest before the start of a civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, is divided between the government-held west and rebel-held east, where UN officials say at least 250,000 people remain under siege.

Rebels in Aleppo have lost at least 30 percent of the besieged east since Saturday, as frontlines continued to cave in after nearly five months of siege.


READ MORE: Syria army captures key Aleppo districts


Syria’s Al-Watan daily, which is close to the government, said the army was advancing quickly.

It said the next stage of the operation would be “to divide the remaining area into security districts that will be easily controlled and to capture them successively”.

The advance would then “push the gunmen to turn themselves (in) … or accept national reconciliation under the terms of the Syrian state”.

East Aleppo-based journalist Zouhir al-Shimale told Al Jazeera that there was a “constant collapse” as rebel-held neighbourhoods continue to fall to government forces.

Civilians besieged for months in the east have faced serious food and fuel shortages.

The Observatory, which relies on a network of informants in the country to monitor the war, said that nearly 10,000 civilians had fled east Aleppo overnight on Saturday – at least 6,000 to the Kurdish-controlled northern district of Sheikh Maksoud, with the rest fleeing to government-held areas.

“It is the first exodus of this kind from east Aleppo since 2012,” Abdel Rahman said, calling it the most significant defeat for the rebels in Aleppo since then.

Source: Al Jazeera News and Agencies