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Hundreds join crucial battle for Syria’s Aleppo

Hundreds join crucial battle for Syria’s Aleppo
Syrian regime forces and rebel factions sent hundreds of reinforcements to Aleppo on Monday as opposition fighters announced an all-out offensive to take the country’s second city.

The battle for Syria’s former economic powerhouse is intensifying after an opposition advance at the weekend broke through a three-week government siege of the city’s rebel-held east, dealing a major setback to regime troops.

Rebel forces on Sunday announced a bid to capture all of Aleppo city, which if successful would mark the biggest opposition victory yet in Syria’s five-year civil war.

But forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad are putting up a fierce fight and have begun pouring reinforcements into the city. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, said some 2,000 pro-regime fighters from Syria, Iraq, Iran and Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah had arrived in Aleppo since late Sunday. 

“Both sides are amassing their fighters in preparation for the great battle of Aleppo,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based Observatory.

The Monday edition of Al-Watan, a Syrian daily close to the government, reported that the army had received “the necessary military reinforcements to launch the battle to retake the areas from which it withdrew.” Citing a source on the ground, the paper said military warplanes “are carrying out a barrage of air strikes targeting the armed groups.”

Aleppo has been roughly divided between government forces in the west and rebel groups in the east since fighting first broke out there in mid-2012.
Agencies

Agencies

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