BEIRUT (dpa) – Syrian opposition forces on Saturday recaptured territory from troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in the embattled northern province of Aleppo, rebels and opposition activists said.
“We are now on the outskirts of Bashkoy, a key town that controls a main road for our supply route in eastern Aleppo,” said Abu Mohammed al-Halabi, a member of the Al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front.
Bashkoy is just north of Aleppo city, Syria’s most populous city and capital of its most populous state.
Syrian troops, backed by fighters from the allied Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah movement, launched a major offensive Tuesday in areas east of the state capital with the aim of cutting the rebel supply route from Turkey and breaking an opposition siege on two government-held Shiite towns.
“Our fighters are continuing their advance into Bashkoy,” al-Halabi said without giving details.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the Syrian conflict through a network of opposition activists in the country, reported that the rebels had also regained the Aleppo suburbs of al-Mallah and Hardataneen from government forces. There was no immediate comment from Damascus.
The fighting in Aleppo comes as the UN envoy on Syria, Staffan de Mistura, is pushing for a ceasefire in the province as a step for a wider truce in Syria’s almost four-year conflict.
De Mistura said this week that the Syrian government had expressed a readiness to halt its bombardment of Aleppo for six weeks.
The envoy is expected to visit Damascus next week for further talks on his plan to “freeze hostilities” in Aleppo.