Syrian Rebels Launch Battle To Retake Aleppo

Rebels say they have breached the siege imposed by the Syrian government on opposition neighborhoods in the northern city of Aleppo, in a major military breakthrough after intense fighting.

A military officer says that trucks with food also entered the city, divided between government and rebel control, earlier in the day.

Drone footage released by Syrian rebels shows the moment a suicide bomber blew himself up, allowing rebels to break through government front lines.

The rebel coalition opened a new route into the northern city's besieged eastern neighborhoods, home to an estimated 250,000 people.

The victory has boosted Fatah Al Sham's credibility among the rebels and helped fortify its argument that it is in the same fight, with the same goals, as the Syrian opposition.

"We are in our trenches but there are insane airstrikes of unprecedented ferociousness", a commander in the rebel coalition told Reuters.

Al Mayadeen TV channel has circulated a communique of the Jaish al-Fatah group that announced "the beginning of a battle for liberating the entire Aleppo".

Advancing through the southwest corner of Aleppo this week, rebels from numerous local factions seized control of military outposts, including the city's artillery academy.

The opposition advance in the Ramouseh district now endangers a major highway linking the government-controlled part of Aleppo to the outside world, leaving an estimated population of 1.2 million at risk of losing a supply line. In just the last few days of combat, a Russian military helicopter was shot down outside the city, and a chemical weapons attack was launched against residential suburbs of Aleppo.

Syrian and Russian warplanes have been pounding rebel-held positions in and around Aleppo, after fighters opposed to President Bashar al-Assad broke the siege of the city.

The group rebranded itself by declaring it was breaking its long-standing ties with al Qaeda to build closer alliances with other jihadist and rebel groups in Syria.

The monitor said more than 700 rebels and government fighters had been killed since the offensive began on Sunday - 200 on Saturday alone.

North of Hamdaniya in the direction of the rebels' push is another large government military complex, the Assad military engineering academy.

The breaking of the siege triggered celebrations in Aleppo's eastern districts, but fierce fighting and continuous Russian and Syrian air strikes in and around the Ramosa district meant no safe passage for residents.

USA weapons such as TOW anti-tank missiles continue to go to these al-Qaeda fighters, along with Saudi-supplied weapons, although the New York Times reports today that this flow has slowed in recent weeks as supply roads have been cut by Syrian Army and allied forces.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, said some 2,000 pro-regime fighters from Syria, Iraq, Iran and Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah had arrived in Aleppo since late Sunday. Basic supplies such as fuel, bread and vegetables were already in short supply on Sunday, they said.

"Most recently I'm hearing that the markets are closed and it's next to impossible to purchase food".

"The UN estimates that collectively all aid supplies in east Aleppo will only last about two more weeks".



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