Largest Aleppo rebel area retaken: Syrian state media
Many people continue to remain trapped under debris, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. In photo: Shops damaged by airstrikes in rebel-held Aleppo on November 17. Photograph: (Reuters)
Syrian state media reported on Saturday that the Syrian government forces have recaptured the largest rebel district in the east of battlefield city Aleppo.
State television said "the armed forces retook full control" of Masaken Hanano district. Operations were under way to clear it of mines and bombs, official news agency SANA said, AFP reported.
"The armed forces retook full control of Masaken Hanano after having put an end to the presence of terrorists there," the state broadcaster said, referring to the rebels fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, reported AFP.
The area around the district was also recaptured and "army engineers are clearing it of bombs and explosives planted by the terrorists in the streets and squares", SANA reported.
The capture of Masaken Hanano in the northeast of Aleppo could give the army line-of-fire control over several other parts of the city's rebel-held east, AFP said.
The Syrian army had advanced in Aleppo on Friday, pounding rebel-held eastern neighbourhoods with air strikes and shelling.
The offensive to retake Aleppo, Syria's second city, is in its 12th day. The city was the economic capital before the war broke out in March 2011.
The regime bombardment has killed 212 civilians, including at least 27 children, in east Aleppo since November 15, a monitoring group said.
Eight civilians were killed during regime shelling and air strikes in eastern Aleppo on Friday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
"I'm terrified by the army's advance and the increasing bombardment," Abu Raed, a father-of-four from the Fardos neighbourhood, told AFP. "There's no safe place for me and my family."
Observatory head rami Abdel Rahman told AFP on Saturday that the government forces were in control of 80 per cent of Masaken Hanano and had the rest in their line of fire.
"They just hundreds of metres (yards) away from isolating the northern districts of east Aleppo from the southern ones," he said.
More than 250,000 civilians have been trapped under siege for months in rebel-held eastern Aleppo, with dwindling food and fuel supplies, AFP said.
(With inputs from AFP)