Syria rebels launch assault to break Aleppo siege
Syria’s rebel groups, including the powerful Ahrar al-Sham faction and former al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front, fired waves of rockets into government-held western Aleppo, killing at least 15 civilians, a monitor said.
Syrian opposition fighters launched a major assault on government forces to break months’-long siege of rebel-held neighbourhoods of Aleppo. The rebels also targeted government positions east of Aleppo and in the coastal province of Latakia, including the Hmeimim military base that is used by Russian forces allied with the regime.
The assault comes more than three months into a government siege of eastern Aleppo, where over 250,000 people live, and several weeks after the army began an operation to retake the rebel east.
Rebel groups “announce the start of the battle to break the siege of Aleppo”, said Abu Yusef Muhajir, a military commander and spokesman for Ahrar al-Sham. The assault “will end the regime occupation of western Aleppo and break the siege on the people trapped inside,” he said.
“The breaking of the siege is inevitable,” said Yasser al-Yusef, a member of the political office of the Nureddine al-Zinki rebel group.
“We will protect civilians, schools and hospitals from Russian attacks and bring our people food and medicine,” he said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain- based monitor, said at least 15 civilians, including two children, were killed, and more than 100 wounded in rebel fire on western Aleppo. It reported fierce clashes on multiple front on the western and southern outskirts of western Aleppo, with three suicide car bombs targeting a checkpoint in the Dahiyet al-Assad neighbourhood. It had no immediate toll in the clashes or bomb attack.