Spotlight: Aleppo in focus as Syria endures decisive tit-for-tat battles

Added On August 6, 2016

 DAMASCUS, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) -- Intense battles raged on Saturday between the Syrian army and rebel groups inside a key military base in Syria's northern province of Aleppo, just hours after the militants stormed parts of that military installation.


A military source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that violent battles have raged between the Syrian forces and an array of extremist rebel groups inside the the Artillery College base in the southwestern countryside of Aleppo, amid continuous shelling by the Syrian forces against the rebels in that facility.

A day earlier the rebels Jaish al-Fateh, or the Conquer Army, unleashed a wide-scale offensive against a compound of military colleges in southwestern Aleppo, with the aim of storming them and opening a route into rebel-held areas in the eastern part of Aleppo city, after the army fully besieged those areas nearly three weeks ago.

The violent battles continued throughout Friday and the rebels couldn't achieve gains, however, the militants of Jaish al-Fateh, an array of ultra-radical groups, renewed their attack at 4.00 a.m. Saturday, managing to storm parts of the facility after carrying out suicide bombings.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor group said the militant groups stormed parts of the artillery college amid intense battles and shelling in that facility.

Meanwhile, the Syrian national TV said the Syrian army and allied forces are fighting intense battles with the radical groups in the military colleges south of Aleppo.

Capturing the artillery base is crucial for the rebels to lift the three-week-long siege by the government forces on eastern Aleppo city districts.

The fortress-like artillery college is located in the al-Ramuseh town in southwestern Aleppo. It's deemed as one of the largest bases in Syria.

The base is only two kilometers from the besieged rebel-held districts in the eastern part of Aleppo city.

If the rebels managed to take hold in the base and control more of the adjacent colleges, the government-controlled part in the western side of Aleppo city will be threatened with isolation.

A military source told Xinhua that the Russian warplanes are striking the rebels inside the artillery base to prevent them from fortifying their positions.

Last month, the Syrian army severed the last rebel supply route connecting rebel-held areas in the northern countryside of Aleppo with rebel-controlled parts in the eastern part of the city.

With the progress made, the Syrian army has fully besieged eastern Aleppo, urging the rebels to surrender themselves and the civilians to cooperate.

Moreover, President Bashar al-Assad announced an amnesty for the rebels who surrender themselves and their weapons to the authorities.

The Syrian authorities in cooperation with the Russians also opened three safe passages for civilians wishing to leave eastern Aleppo. They also opened a fourth one for the rebels who would want to surrender themselves.

On Tuesday, SANA said dozens of families evacuated eastern districts in Aleppo, the second batch to leave the city since the government offered the safe passages.

SANA also said rebel fighters surrendered themselves to the authorities. Video clips of rebels surrendering were aired on several Syrian TVs.

Still, the bulk of the rebel groups inside the eastern part of Aleppo city refused to surrender, prompting their comrades outside the city of Aleppo to unleash attacks to break the government siege from the countryside of Aleppo.

The rebels inside Aleppo city attempted to break the siege repeatedly, but when failing to do so, the militants in the countryside attempted to break the siege from the al-Ramuseh area, more specifically through capturing and storming the artillery base.

Aleppo, Syria's largest province and once a thriving economic metropolis, has witnessed intensified violent battles lately as the Syrian army advances against the rebels in the north.