ALEPPO, Syria, Dec 2, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 02nd Dec, 2016 ) - Syrian government forces have recaptured half of rebel-held territory in Aleppo since launching a devastating offensive for the city in mid-November, a monitoring group said Friday. Troops and allied militia have overrun all of Aleppo's northeast and are now chipping away at the far eastern districts of the city, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. On Friday, regime forces "consolidated their control" over two eastern districts and were pushing further into the city to squeeze the shrinking rebel enclave, said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.
"After the recent advances, the regime is comfortably in control of half of former rebel territory in the city's east," Abdel Rahman told AFP. Intermittent clashes on Friday rocked a block of residential buildings on Aleppo's eastern edges, where advancing regime forces have sought to secure the road towards the airport. AFP's correspondent in east Aleppo said ferocious clashes could be heard in the Tariq al-Bab district, where regime forces were advancing on Thursday.
Civilians had already totally emptied the adjacent neighbourhood of Al-Shaar, where a few rebels manned positions in the streets. Al-Shaar's vegetable stalls -- empty for months because of a devastating government siege -- now laid smashed to pieces because of heavy artillery fire on the neighbourhood. Since Saturday, at least 50,000 have sought refuge in the government-held west or in the Kurdish-held enclave between the two sectors. And more than 300 civilians, including dozens of children, have been killed in Aleppo's east since the regime began its offensive on November 15. Retaliatory rocket fire has also killed 55 civilians in government-held territory, according to an Observatory toll. The escalating violence has been met with international outrage, including a UN warning that east Aleppo could become "a giant graveyard".