Damascus: The Syrian army and allied fighters on Saturday recaptured a key rebel-held neighbourhood in the northern city of Aleppo, following intense battles with the rebel groups.
The forces re-took the Masaken Hanano area, following battles with the rebels' Jaish al-Fateh, or the Army of Conquest, during which assorted weapons were used amid artillery shelling that targeted the rebels' supply lines in the area, Xinhua news agency quoted a source as saying.
Masaken Hanano is the largest rebel-held district in eastern Aleppo, and was also the first area stormed by the rebels in mid-2012.
Observers said capturing the area will expose the Sakhour neighbourhood to the Syrian army, enabling it to isolate the northern part of the rebel-held areas in eastern Aleppo from the southern one.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists on ground, said the Syrian forces were making rapid progress in eastern Aleppo, where over 250,000 civilians are trapped.
For months, the Syrian government and Russia have been urging rebels to leave Aleppo, offering them safe passage to other rebel-held areas in Idlib province.
The rebels, however, turned down all offers, which has resulted in intensified violence.