(AFP) Syrian government forces have retaken “full control” of the rebel-held district of Masaken Hanano in northern battlefield city Aleppo, state media said on Saturday.
State television said “the armed forces retook full control” of the largest rebel district in the east of the city, and official news agency SANA said operations were now under way to clear it of mines and bombs.
“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.
SANA said government forces, backed by its allies, also recaptured the area around the district and “army engineers are clearing it of bombs and explosives planted by the terrorists in the streets and squares.”
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.
Regime forces had been advancing inside the neighborhood for several days, and on Friday state television said they were progressing “from three axes.”
The operation is part of a major offensive now in its 12th day to take back all of Aleppo, Syria’s second city and its economic capital before the war broke out in March 2011.
Since November 15, regime bombardment of eastern Aleppo has killed 212 civilians, including 27 children, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP on Saturday that the government forces were in control of 80 percent of Masaken Hanano and had the rest in their line of fire.
“They just hundreds of meters 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.