Syrian army captures key rebel stronghold in Aleppo city

Source: XinhuaEditor: Yao Jianing
2016-07-28 21:58

DAMASCUS, July 28 (Xinhua) -- Syrian government troops and allied fighters on Thursday captured a key rebel stronghold in the city of Aleppo, the latest in a string of victories the army made in the city, state news agency SANA said.

Government forces regained full control over the notorious Bani Zaid district in the eastern part of Aleppo, and bomb squads have started dismantling booby-traps, said SANA.

Bani Zaid was once the staging ground for rebel attacks on the government-controlled western parts of Aleppo that involved mortar shelling, improvised rockets, and booby-trapped gas cylinders.

Civilians in Aleppo's western part have repeatedly urged government forces to "wipe out" Bani Zaid from existence following hundreds of deadly attacks over the past couple of years, SANA said.

Earlier this month, over 70 people were killed in Aleppo in rebel shelling from Bani Zaid.

The advance on Bani Zaid is the latest in a series of victories declared by government forces in Aleppo.

Over the past week, the Syrian army effectively cut off the Castello road, the last rebel supply route connecting rebel-held areas in the northern countryside of Aleppo with eastern districts in Aleppo.

With that, the rebel-held districts in eastern Aleppo have become completely besieged.

On Wednesday, military helicopters dropped tens of thousands of leaflets on rebels-held areas in Aleppo, urging the rebels to surrender and the civilians to cooperate with the Syrian army, while offering them safe exits out of eastern Aleppo.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad declared amnesty on Thursday, offering pardon for rebels who surrender within three months, and kidnapers who release their victims within a month.

Aleppo, located near the borders with Turkey, has been a focal point of clashes between the Syrian army and the rebels.

In the summer of 2012, thousands of armed militants stormed residential districts of Aleppo from its countryside, striking the economic nerves of the Syrian government.

The rebels captured several districts in east Aleppo and tried repeatedly to expand their presence to government-controlled areas in the west.

The rebels laid siege to western Aleppo districts after cutting the international road to Aleppo in 2014, a siege broken later by the Syrian army, with the help of Hezbollah.

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