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Fighting Resumes in Aleppo After Rebels Blocked Civilian Exit

Oct. 24, 2016 (EIRNS)—In Aleppo, Syria, full-scale fighting seems to be returning. Reuters reported yesterday afternoon that the fighting in Aleppo had intensified, with air strikes, ground offensives, and shelling. There was fighting between government forces and jihadis along the southwest approach to the city and, according to the Syrian Observatory, shelling by the jihadis into the government-held Hamdaniya district. The opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) claims to be preparing for a big attack to try to break the siege of eastern Aleppo (again), and is warning civilians to stay away from Syrian government military buildings for their own safety.

This morning, however, Sputnik reports that the Syria's government and its allies are gaining the upper hand in the southwest. A source in a government-allied militia said that government forces have taken control of several hilltops around the 1070 housing project, and are moving on Hikma Hill, which has been a strategic position for the jihadis, enabling them to maintain fire over government forces trying to move into the 1070 area. Syrian forces are also targeting the road to Khan Touman, farther to the southeast. These offensives, if they succeed, will enable Syrian forces to widen the corridor into the western side of the city that they currently control.

Meanwhile, in the countryside to the northwest of the city, Turkish-backed FSA units and the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) are fighting each other. The Kurds shelled the rebel-held town of Mare’ for several hours on Sunday while Kurdish engineers stiffened the Kurish Syrian Democratic Forces’ ditches and defensive line along the Azaz-Mare’ axis, reports Al Masdar. Kurdish reconnaissance units also reported Turkish tanks leaving Mare’, probably to participate in the drive to Al Bab. The Turkish military said in a statement this morning, that, as part of its Euphrates Shield operation, strikes by "fire support vehicles" (probably meaning self-propelled artillery) hit 27 Islamic State targets and 19 belonging to the YPG, leaving both groups "without maneuvering capacity."

After Moscow’s recent declarations of support for the government in Damascus, Hassan Nasralla followed suit, yesterday, vowing in a televised speech, that Hezbollah would not leave Syria until it could "defeat the apostate project."

"Our choice of going to Syria was very well studied after observing the regional developments that began in Tunisia and reached Syria," Nasrallah said, adding, "Time has revealed that the battle in Syria is aimed at making existential changes on the ground as well as to the political map of the region."

"We will continue this battle until the end, and we are proud of our martyrs in Syria, and whoever bargains on our tiredness will lose," he said, emphasizing that the security "we are living in now is not the outcome of agreements or mere prayers," but it is the outcome of efforts made by martyrs and their blood.

Elsewhere in Syria, Syrian forces pushed ISIS farther away from key oil fields in eastern Homs province, and the Syrian air force hit ISIS in Deir Ezzor with 20 air strikes yesterday. Syrian forces are also expanding their area of control in the Ghouta area of rural Damascus province, after the jihadis were forced to evacuate several districts of the capital.