Syrian army soldiers advance further in eastern Aleppo
The Syrian army has pushed deeper into eastern Aleppo in its effort to retake the area from militants who are preventing residents from leaving it, a London-based monitor says.
Troops advanced in the key district of Masaken Hanano under the Syrian army’s air cover, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Masaken Hanano was the first Aleppo district to fall to foreign-backed terrorists in 2012 and is strategically vital.
According to the observatory, if government forces manage to take the district they will be able to cut off the northern parts of militant-held Aleppo from the rest of the terrorist-held districts.
Military aircraft dropped flyers, calling on the militants there to distribute foodstuff among the civilian population, leave the area and allow local residents to move to government-held areas.
The observatory said militants are preventing dozens of families from leaving eastern Aleppo, just like what they did during a “humanitarian pause” established by Syria and Russia earlier this month.
Government troops are battling terrorists on several fronts inside militant-held districts.
The Associated Press quoted a resident of Aleppo’s frontline Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood, who corroborated the report by the observatory.
The man, identified as Hajj Mohammed al-Jasim, said his uncles’ families were trying to cross from the Bustan al-Basha neighborhood in the east to the Sheikh Maqsoud enclave.
His relatives told him they were prepared to cross during the day but were advised by three militant groups to wait until dark.
“Then in the evening, (the terrorists) began to fire at the crossing” to prevent passage, al-Jasim said. The observatory reported 100 families are waiting to cross. Others said 250 civilians were prepared to go.
Elsewhere in the southwestern province of Quneitra, army troops pounded the positions of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as the Al-Nusra Front, killing an unspecified number of them.
The Syrian military command also announced plans for the formation of a new anti-terrorism commando force, dubbed the Fifth Corps. The announcement comes as the pace of the army’s push to recapture eastern Aleppo rises.
An announcement Tuesday urged terrorist groups to allow civilians to exit the besieged enclave through government-designated corridors. Another called on residents to stay clear of areas where armed groups operate.
Chemical attack probe
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on Tuesday said it had received “samples” from Russia which it “may be of use” to the global watchdog’s investigation into chemical attacks in Aleppo.
The Russian military said on November 11 that it had evidence of the use of chemical weapons by terrorists.
The OPCW said it had “recently received an offer from Russian authorities to provide some samples and other material in relation to an incident of alleged use of chemicals as weapons in Aleppo.”
“These samples and other material may be of use in the ongoing work of the OPCW fact-finding mission,” the organization said.
The OPCW said it has asked the Russian Foreign Ministry to submit “such material in Damascus or The Hague” due to the dangerously volatile situation in Aleppo.
On Tuesday, some residents of the Qaterji and Dahjer Awad districts said they experienced breathing difficulties from possible chlorine gas.