Syrian army advances on Aleppo despite Eid truce promise

#SyriaWar

Saudi-backed rebel group Jaish al-Islam says four of its fighters killed trying to stop government forces cutting crucial supply route

Syrian forces announced their three-day ceasefire on Wednesday, and were fighting on Thursday (AFP)
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Thursday 7 July 2016 14:48 UTC
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The Syrian army advanced within firing range of the rebels' sole supply route to Aleppo in heavy fighting on Thursday despite its announcement of a ceasefire for the Eid al-Fitr holiday, a monitor said.

Saudi-backed rebel group Jaish al-Islam said four of its fighters were killed trying to stop the army from cutting the Castello Road, the only route into rebel-held areas of Syria's second city.

Rebel fire on the government-held Sayf al-Dawla district of the city killed three people, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The army announced on Wednesday that it was observing a 72-hour nationwide ceasefire for the Eid al-Fitr holiday that marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

But fighting has continued on the ground, particularly in and around Aleppo.

Syrian state news agency SANA on Thursday confirmed that regime forces were within firing range of the route after advancing in farmland north of Aleppo city.

President Bashar al-Assad's forces have been trying to cut the Castello Road for more than two years and the Observatory said that Thursday's advance brought them the closest so far to achieving that goal.

Their capture of a hill just a kilometre away allows them to fire on any traffic moving along the road from the ground as well as from the air, the Britain-based monitoring group said.

"If government forces can hold their positions there and fight back the counter-offensive, then the opposition neighbourhoods will be completely besieged," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

Aleppo has been divided since mid-2012 when rebels seized the east of the city confining government forces to the west.

The pre-war commercial capital has been one of the main battlegrounds of the civil war ever since and successive ceasefires announced for the city have been swiftly broken.