Fierce fighting in Aleppo as Syrian rebels continue offensive

Fierce fighting in Aleppo as Syrian rebels continue offensive
Syrian rebels are continuing Friday's offensive, and launched new assaults on a military complex on the west Aleppo, while a gas attack has injured civilians close to the front line.
3 min read
30 October, 2016
Syrian rebels are pushing deeper into West Aleppo [Anadolu]

Syrian rebels are continuing their offensive in Aleppo with further attacks on the western fringes in a bid to break a siege on the city's opposition-held east.

More rockets and shells were fired into regime-controlled West Aleppo on Sunday with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reporting 38 civilian deaths since the offensive began on Friday.

The Free Syrian Army declared West Aleppo a "military zone" on Sunday and urged residents to stay at home or away from military targets.

On the offensive

Earlier in the day, rebel groups said they had entered the 3000 apartments district, and were hitting regime positions inside the complex with Grad missiles.

Fighting is also taking place for control of the nearby military engineering academy, which lies close to a corridor of land key to breaking the siege on East Aleppo.

The assaults have left more than 55 pro-regime troops and militia fighter dead - including "senior" Hizballah and Iranian commanders. Meanwhile 64 Syrian rebels have been killed according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Syrian rebels said their push eastwards will see them eventually liberate West Aleppo in an assault involving thousands of fighters.

"The advance will be from al-Assad neighbourhood towards Hamdaniyeh," said Yasser al-Youssef of the Nour al-Deen al-Zinki rebel faction.

Friday's offensive began with former al-Qaeda affiliate, Fatah al-Sham, launching at least three suicide attacks at the start of the operation.

Read also: Syrian rebels prepare 'Mother of all Battles' for Aleppo

Ahrar al-Sham fighters stormed the initial lines of defence in the Hamadaniya district, while others from the Free Syrian Army and the Salafi-inclined Jaish al-Fatah launched coordinated assaults on West Aleppo.

The offensive involved around 5,000 fighters and came after weeks of planning. The two-pronged attack came as "hundreds" of Grad missile were fired on regime positions, including a military airport in Aleppo.

It also involved the introduction of new weapons to the war - customised armoured vehicles and bulldozers rigged with explosives which were used against regime positions.

By the evening, Jaish al-Fatah rebel group had taken complete control of the "Assad district" of the city, which included the 1070 apartment project complex. 

It was the first time the rebels had captured the area, and will likely serve as a springboard for further offensives into the al-Ramousa district. 

Gas attack

Meanwhile, the FSA said it had captured more villages from the Islamic State group in the Aleppo countryside as part of the the Euphrates Shield operation with Turkish support.

There had been hopes this faction could relieve pressure of rebel forces in Aleppo by attacking regime areas, but support is still forthcoming.

In south Syria, the opposition Southern Front annouced a start of a new offensive in Daraa province.

State media reported that 36 people were injured in a "toxic gas" attack on the frontline district of Dahiyet al-Assad and regime-held Hamdaniyeh in Aleppo.

The Syrian opposition blamed the regime for the gas attack and said the fumes had reached a government-controlled area when the wind changed direction.

Human rights groups have accused the Syrian of dozens of gas attacks on civilian areas in the past, usually using toxin chlorine.

Agencies contributed to this story.