Army Wins Series of Victories but Fight for Aleppo Goes On
James Tweedie, The Morning Star, London, 13 October 2016
A string of Syrian army victories over foreign-backed extremists were
confirmed by reports yesterday as the battle for Aleppo ground on.
Troops advanced in the north and south of rebel-held east Aleppo, attacking
Tel Sheik Saeed hill and the Bushtan al-Pasaha districts.
A local source said talks had begun between some militant groups in Bushtn
al-Pasha on a possible amnesty allowing them to leave the city.
But the main groups in Aleppo, al-Qaida affiliate the Levant Conquest Front
(LCF) and the fundamentalist Nour al-Din al-Zinki, have refused to
The government has offered safe passage to civilians and militants who lay
down their arms, but Russia Today correspondent Murad Gazdiev reported this
week that insurgent snipers were targeting those who try to flee.
In central Hama province, the army captured the key town of Kawkab and more
than a dozen villages seized by LCF offshoot Jund al-Aqsa in recent weeks.
The army took advantage of infighting between the al-Qaida affiliate and the
Western-backed Ahrar al-Sham to reverse their recent gains.
Meanwhile, 150 Jund al-Aqsa militants swore allegiance to Islamic State
(Isis) after fleeing to its eastern stronghold of Raqqa.
East of Damascus, government troops controlled the town of Reyhan after
driving insurgents out on Wednesday night. That leaves the army just a mile
from Douma, the centre of the Ghouta pocket.
In the towns of al-Hama and Qudsaya, to the west of Damascus, rebels
surrendered their heavy weaponry to the army in the latest of a series of
truces negotiated independently of the United Nations.
Some 150 militants and their families will be evacuated, but another 400
will accept a government amnesty and stay on.
Elsewhere, troops and Palestinian militias captured the northern districts
of the Yarmouk refugee camp south of the capital, after being forced out by
Isis earlier this year.
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