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Syrian govt. soldiers make gains in eastern Aleppo neighborhood



Syrian troops have made fresh advances in an eastern neighborhood of Aleppo as part of their offensive to drive out the last remnants of foreign-backed militants from the city.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government forces had won back half of the Sukkari district, which was among the last areas in Aleppo remaining under the control of terrorists.

Syria’s state-run television network said government forces are now in control of 99 percent of Aleppo, with militants cornered into a small slither of land.

Hundreds of foreign-backed militants have laid down arms in Aleppo since Tuesday, and almost 6,000 civilians have left militant-held districts.

Militant evacuation back on track 

Reports on Thursday said a new agreement has been reached for the evacuation of militants from the last pocket of territory they control in Aleppo.

The media arm of Lebanon’s Hezbollah group said overnight negotiations have reinforced a ceasefire deal to allow militants and tens of thousands of civilians to leave the besieged city.

Thursday’s announcement came after the ceasefire deal, mediated by Ankara and Moscow, unraveled amid fighting the previous day.

The UN Commission of Inquiry for Syria (COI) said it has received reports that Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, and Saudi-backed Ahrar al-Sham terrorists are preventing civilians from leaving east Aleppo.

Syrian troops advance in the Jisr al-Haj neighborhood during an operation to retake remaining militant-held areas in Aleppo on December 14, 2016. (Photo by AFP)


The COI said it had received “allegations of opposition groups… preventing civilians from leaving as well as opposition fighters embedding themselves within the civilian population, thus heightening the risk to civilians of being killed or injured.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also said he hoped militants in eastern Aleppo end resistance in the next 2 to 3 days.

“I hope that the situation in Aleppo will be resolved in two to three days. [Russia] has created humanitarian corridors [in Aleppo] that have been and are being used by tens of thousands of civilians,” he said on Wednesday.

The top Russian diplomat added that assurances of safety have been given to militants, who renounce violence, and corridors have also been organized for their safe passage from Aleppo.

Syrian government forces patrol the northern city of Aleppo on December 14, 2016. (Photo by AFP)


Also on Wednesday, Syrian army forces launched an operation against a militant position in al-Rastan city in the central province of Homs, killing 17 terrorists and destroying two pick-up trucks.

Scores of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham terrorists were also killed as army units targeted their gatherings in the Dara’a al-Balad district of the southwestern city of Dara’a, located about 90 kilometers south of Damascus, as well as the town of al-Yadoda.

The conflict in Syria, which flared up in March 2011, has claimed the lives of more than 400,000 people, according to an estimate by UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

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