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Hopes for peace in Syria fade amid military advances on Aleppo

Syrian government forces make military advances and tighten grip around Aleppo, days after cessation of hostilities is pledged

14 February 2016, 10:05am
Syrians gather at the Bab al-Salam border gate with Turkey, in Syria
Syrians gather at the Bab al-Salam border gate with Turkey, in Syria
Syrian government forces continue to make military advances and tighten their grip around the key city of Aleppo, mere days after a cessation of hostilities was pledged during a meeting of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) last week.

World leaders had admitted the likely success of the plan was roughly 50-50, with the Syrian government and the main opposition groups not saying whether they will implement the ceasefire or not. An interview published earlier this week with President Assad, reads that the Syrian leader said his armed forces would try to retake the entire country “without hesitation”.

Meanwhile, Syrian activists and news agencies reported that the Syrian army, backed by Russian air strikes and fighters loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regained control of al-Tamoura town and several surrounding hills located in Aleppo's northern suburbs, on Saturday.

Al Jazeera reports that the offensive means that government troops are now closer to cutting off one of the main supply routes for Syrian rebels, who still control much of Aleppo city.

"Army units, in cooperation with supporting forces, restored security and stability to al-Tamoura village at the northern countryside of Aleppo," Syrian state news agency SANA said.

The Syrian government launched its offensive from the north of Aleppo and captured several strategically important towns earlier this month, but the offensive had led to the displacement of over 500,000 civilians from the province, leading to a deterioration of the refugee crisis, with thousands amassed in camps at the Turkish border.

"The humanitarian situation in Aleppo is horrible. We are running out of supplies and resources are very limited. People are fleeing their homes and heading north towards Turkey or west towards Idlib suburbs," Abu Thaer al-Halabi, who heads the media office at the rebel-controlled Aleppo local council, told Al Jazeera.

"What the government is trying to do is push further south and control a supply line that connects northern areas to western areas. In return the government would have surrounded Aleppo city blocking it from Nubul and Zahra.”

"Heavy clashes are still taking place as rebels are trying to recapture al-Tamoura town," he added.

The conflict in Syria started in 2011 when anti-government protests developed into a civil war, with the Assad government, Islamic State, an array of Syrian rebels and Kurdish fighters all holding territories across the country. The groups are largely also fighting each other, besides government forces, with the latter gaining support from Iran, Russia and Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, and the UK, US, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar backing more moderate Sunni opposition groups.

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