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Intense battles rage in Aleppo, as rebels unleash broad offensive

(Xinhua)    08:18, August 01, 2016

A picture taken on July 3, 2016 from the UNESCO-listed citadel shows the partially collapsed building of the famed Carlton Citadel Hotel (L), in the government-controlled side of the divided northern Syrian city of Aleppo. (AFP/Xinhua)

DAMASCUS, July 31 -- Intense battles raged on Sunday in the northern province of Aleppo in Syria, following a broad offensive the rebels unleashed in a bid to break government-imposed siege on rebel-held areas, a monitor group reported.

The Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, which was previously known as the Nusra Front before breaking ties with al-Qaida and changing its name, as well as other jihadi groups unleashed Sunday a wide-scale offensive in the hope of breaking a siege imposed recently by the Syrian army on rebel-held areas in the eastern part of Aleppo, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The London-based watchdog said the rebels attacked from several directions, coupled with explosions that were heard in the southern countryside of Aleppo.

It said at least two car bombs were detonated in southern Aleppo, with the launch of the rebel attack.

The ground battles were also coupled with airstrikes on rebel-held areas in the western countryside of Aleppo.

Earlier in the day, the al-Fateh Army, or the Conquer Army, which is an ally to the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, announced in a video message the beginning of a big offensive to break the Syrian army's recent advance in Aleppo.

Late last week, the Syrian army stormed the Bani Zaid area, a main rebel stronghold in the eastern part of Aleppo.

The progress came a week after the army severed the last rebel supply route connecting rebel-held areas in the northern countryside of Aleppo, with rebel-controlled parts in the eastern part of the city.

Severing the Castello road has dealt a strong blow to the rebels inside Aleppo.

With the progress made, the Syrian army has fully besieged eastern Aleppo, urging the rebels to surrender themselves and the civilians to cooperate.

Moreover, President Bashar al-Assad announced an amnesty for the rebels who surrender themselves and their weapons to the authorities.

The Syrian authorities in cooperation with the Russians also opened three safe passages for civilians wishing to leave eastern Aleppo. They also opened a fourth one for the rebels who would want to surrender themselves.

On Saturday, state news agency SANA said dozens of families evacuated eastern districts in Aleppo, amid reports that the rebels prevented many civilians from leaving.

The evacuation of the civilians was also coupled with official reports talking about rebel fighters surrendering themselves to the authorities.

Video clips of rebels surrendering were aired on several Syrian TVs.

Still, the process, which was apparently going on smoothly, was undermined Sunday by the rebels' offensive.

Well-informed sources from Aleppo told Xinhua that the army units managed to foil the rebels' offensive so far amid intense battles.

A military source told Xinhua on Sunday evening that very intense battles are taking place south of Aleppo on several fronts, adding that medium and heavy weapons are being used, as well as airstrikes on the rebel positions.

"The intense battles are still raging till now," he said on condition of anonymity.

Aleppo, Syria's largest province and once a thriving economic metropolis, has witnessed intensified violent battles lately as the Syrian army advances against the rebels in the north.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Editor: Kong Defang,Bianji)

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