Syria rebels 'repel surprise regime attack near Aleppo'

Syria rebels 'repel surprise regime attack near Aleppo'
Opposition forces say regime launched surprise attack to cut off rebel-held areas of Aleppo, hours after the UN said it had agreed in principle to a six-week ceasefire.
2 min read
19 February, 2015
A member of the rebel Aleppo brigades moves to attack pro-regime forces [Saleh Mahmoud Laila/Anadolu]

Syrian rebels claim to have repelled a surprise regime attack north of Aleppo and taken prisoners, launched after the regime agreed in principle to a UN-brokered six-week ceasefire.

The Reuters news agency reported that at least 70 pro-regime fighters and more than 80 rebels were killed as rebels countered the attackon Tuesday and Wednesday, which was indended to cut supply lines to the city.

Rebel sources told al-Araby al-Jadeed that they had thwarted the advance. Ahmad Hamed, an Aleppo-based activist Syrian Observatory for Human Rights group, said that 32 regime soldiers were seized in Ratyan, to the north of Aleppo, after it was retaken by rebels on Wednesday.

However, the observatory also said Aleppo's main route to the Turkish border was blocked and under fire by pro-government forces on Wednesday. Al-Araby cannot independently verify the information.

The fighting came after the UN envoy, Staffan de Mistura, reported that the Syrian regime had agreed to suspend airstrikes and shelling of rebel areas in Aleppo. He had not managed to get a commitment by the rebels to a trial ceasefire before heavy fighting broke out Tuesday.

According to the UK-based observatory, pro-regime forces also attempted to relieve Nubl and Zahraa, two pro-regime villages north of Aleppo that have been under siege since the summer of 2012.

Syrian opposition sources said they managed to destroy two regime tanks with anti-tank missiles near the town of Bashko.

Syrian opposition sources also told al-Araby that they managed to destroy two regime tanks with anti-tank missiles near the town of Bashko and in the strategic region of al-Mallah, where the opposition made significant advances. Al-Araby could not independently confirm this information.

The London-based oberservatory reported that 60 pro-regime troops were able to flee to Nubl and Zahraa, after retreating from battles in nearby Ratain on Tuesday.

Shelling and airstrikes

The regime also reportedly launched airstrikes and artillery shelling on rebel-held cities in the Aleppo region.

Witnesses in the city of Atarib, the largest city in the countryside west of Aleppo, told al-Araby that at least three children were killed by an air attack on a primary school in the city.

Hasan Halabi said a regime jet fired a missile at a residential building in Malikiya village in northern Aleppo countryside, causing many casualties.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.