Syrian rebels routed as regime militias storm through Aleppo

Syrian rebels routed as regime militias storm through Aleppo
Fears that the Syrian regime will soon capture all of Aleppo were heightened on Monday when pro-Damascus fighters moved deeper into then rebel-held east forcing a desperate retreat.
3 min read
28 November, 2016
The Syrian army has gained significant ground in its offensive to recapture the city [AFP]

Syrian regime forces and their militia allies took control of the whole of the north of East Aleppo on Monday, effectively splitting the rebel enclave in two and forcing a desperate retreat from the opposition and civilians.

Regime fighters gained significant ground on the weekend with more areas captured on Monday sparking fears of mass recriminations against civilians who say behind.

Regime and Russian war planes have been accused of killing huge numbers of civlians with gas attacks, cluster bombs and incendiary devices all used on the tightly-packed rebel enclave.

Images have emerged of children killed in bombing, some said to have died from a regime chlorine attack on the rebel districts.

Russia's defense ministry which has been accused of bombing rebel positions said in a statement that regime forces took control of ten neighborhoods and over 3,000 buildings, claiming that 100 rebels had surrendered.

Regime forces seized the Sakhour, Haydariya and Sheikh Khodr districts, while Kurdish fighters took the Sheikh Fares neighbourhood from rebels, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.


Syrian state media said pro-Damascus fighters had taken control of the entire Sakhour area and were working to clear it of mines.

One rebel official denied the report that the district had fallen, an advance that would cut the rebel-held eastern districts of Aleppo in two, while another said the situation was not yet clear.

Rebels from the Free Syrian Army said they had surrendered areas of Aleppo to Kurdish rebels to prevent regime forces entering and killing terrified civilians.

However, activists have warned of an "information blackout" in rebel areas, as Kurdish and regime troops take control of infrastructure controlling internet to opposition areas.

Seven-year-old Bana al-Abed earlier tweeted about the terror in eastern Aleppo.

On Sunday, her house was hit under heavy bombardment, where she saw "dead people" and "almost died".

Syrians are said to be hiding in basements as regime forces advance and bombs rain down.

Thousands are thought to have been made homeless from the regime's recent blitz of East Aleppo and advance of pro-regime militias, including Hizballah.

"It is stinging cold, food is scarce and people are shaken in the streets," Mohammad Zein Khandaqani, a member of the Medical Council in Aleppo, told The Associated Press.

Residents were taking refuge in mosques while others moved to homes of displaced people in safer areas.

People in southern neighbourhoods were donating blankets and other items to the new arrivals, who travelled on foot, exhausted, cold and hungry.

Due to the months-long siege on Aleppo's east, international aid provisions have been exhausted and food stocks are running desperately low.

The United Nations has appealed for access to the east of the city multiple times, but such offers have been rejected by the regime.

Next stage

If Syrian forces capture all of east Aleppo, Assad's government will be in control of the country's four largest cities as well as the coastal region.

Syria's pro-regime al-Watan daily said the next stage of the operation would be "to divide the remaining (rebel-held) area into... districts that will be easily controlled and to capture them successively".

The advance would then "push the gunmen to turn themselves in... or accept national reconciliation under the terms of the Syrian state".

Assad's forces already control the capital Damascus, the central cities of Homs and Hama and the coastal city of Latakia.

More than 400,000 people have been killed since Syria's conflict began with anti-government protests in March 2011.

The war has also displaced over half the country's population, with millions fleeing across Syria's border to become refugees.

Agencies contributed to this report.