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Syrian government battles rebels for key Aleppo district

There were conflicting accounts of the situation in the 1070 Apartments district on the southwestern outskirts of Aleppo

Published: Updated:

Syrian government forces battled rebels for control of a strategically significant district of Aleppo on Tuesday, in what could be the most important advance in the divided city by Damascus and its allies in weeks.

There were conflicting accounts of the situation in the 1070 Apartments district on the southwestern outskirts of Aleppo, which lies alongside the government's corridor into the parts of the city which it controls.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based group that reports on the war, said government forces and their allies had seized full control of the district, calling it the most significant gain by the government in Aleppo since September.

But officials in two rebel groups fighting in Aleppo said the battle was still raging in the area. Yasser Alyousef from the political office of the Nour al-Din al-Zinki group said rebels had recovered positions they had lost on Monday.

"There is still a battle and the result has absolutely not been decided," added the second official, Zakaria Malahifji, head of the political office of the Fastaqim rebel group.

A military media unit run by the Damascus-allied Hezbollah meanwhile said the Syrian army and its allies had taken full control of the area. Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shiite Muslim group, is fighting in support of Damascus.

Syrian government forces backed by allied militias and Russian air power launched a major assault on rebel-held eastern Aleppo in September, after besieging the area that the United Nations says is home to 275,000 people.

Insurgents launched a counter attack aimed at breaking the siege on Oct. 29, targeting government-held western districts of Aleppo in an offensive that included jihadist groups and insurgents fighting under the Free Syrian Army banner.

But their progress slowed after early gains.

Russia says its air force has been observing a moratorium on air strikes on the rebel-held districts of eastern Aleppo since Oct. 18. The Observatory and emergency workers in eastern Aleppo said heavy air strikes had killed hundreds of people, and hit hospitals and other civilian facilities prior to that.

Insurgent shelling of government-held western Aleppo has meanwhile killed dozens of people, the United Nations said last week in an update on the humanitarian situation in the city.