Syrian forces have retaken another district in the east of the city of Aleppo, now exerting control over 60 percent of the city’s militant-held eastern part, according to a monitoring group.
Joined by allied fighters, the Syrian military seized Aleppo’s Tariq al-Bab neighborhood from the militants, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Saturday.
The advance also restored control on a road leading from Aleppo’s government-held western neighborhoods to the city’s airport, which is also under government control.
Foreign-backed militants amassed in the city’s eastern side in 2012. The government has been controlling its west and fighting to retake the east.
The official Syrian Arab News Agency said the military had also wrested back control over the Karam Al-Qaterji, Jazmati, and Halwaniyah neighborhoods in eastern Aleppo. An unspecified number of the militants were killed in the operations.
The government’s advances have taken by surprise many of the foreign states that have been channeling financial and military support to the militants since the onset of the foreign-backed militancy in Syria in 2011.
Amid the victories, some countries, including France, have called for the implementation of a ceasefire in Aleppo, citing a need for secure corridors for the transfer of humanitarian assistance to the city.
On Wednesday, Russia warned that the issue of aid delivery in Syria was becoming highly politicized as most UN humanitarian aid was going to the areas occupied by foreign-backed militants. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said only one percent of the UN aid supplies was being directed to the western city of Dayr al-Zawr, where at least 200,000 people trapped by the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group remain in desperate need of help.
Russia has, meanwhile, voiced outrage at the recent formation in Aleppo’s east of a militant umbrella group calling itself the Army of Aleppo, describing it a diversion tactic to shield a notorious terrorist group there.
The move, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday, was just an attempt to disguise and shield al-Nusra Front, an affiliate of al-Qaeda that has recently renamed itself Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and has claimed to have broken up with al-Qaeda.
Lavrov said nearly all the militant groups fighting in eastern Aleppo were controlled by the Takfiri terrorist group.
“I do not rule out that this is just another attempt to rebrand al-Nusra Front and shield it from righteous retaliation,” Lavrov said, referring to the formation of the so-called Army of Aleppo.
Also on Saturday, a unit grouping army forces and its allies destroyed the positions of al-Nusra, in the suburbs of the city of al-Rastan in the southwestern Syria Dara’a Province.