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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Sunday, January 21, 2018

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Syrian army advances on Aleppo, backed by Iran and Hezbollah

Iranian forces advanced on Aleppo

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ALEPPO, Syria - Syrian troops supported by Hezbollah fighters and Iranian forces advanced on Aleppo Saturday in offensive to retake territory from insurgents and jihadist fighters, a monitoring group said.

The conflict around Aleppo, which the army launched on Friday, is one of several offensives it has waged against rebel fighters in the wake of airstrikes by Russian jets in support of President Bashar al-Assad.

The Syrian army has concentrated so far on clearing rebel areas south of Aleppo rather than the city itself, which was home to 2-million people before the civil war began and is divided between government forces and rebels.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday that the army and its allies captured three villages during fierce fighting in which at least 17 Islamist fighters and eight soldiers or allied forces were killed.

It is unclear whether any civilians were killed in the fighting.

Syrian troops are also trying to advance to the east of Aleppo towards Kweires military airport, in an effort to break a siege on the base by ISIS and other insurgents, the Observatory said.

Al-Manar television, a Hezbollah propaganda channel, said the army had captured the village of Huwaija, on the way to Kweires. The Observatory said Syrian troops were advancing in Huwaija, one of several villages where heavy fighting was ongoing through Saturday night.

Syrian forces have also been fighting to retake parts of the northern provinces of Hama, Idlib and Latakia, which were seized by rebels in recent months, as well as insurgent areas north of Homs city.

Homs is near the government-held capital Damascus, fighting has also been ongoing in the southern province of Deraa near the Jordanian border.

The Observatory reported fighting around the town of Talbiseh, part of a rebel-held enclave north of Homs city which has faced heavy bombardment by Russian jets for the last two weeks.

A ground offensive to retake Talbiseh has also been launched by the army and allied militias, the rights group said.

The group said that at least 72 people, including 31 women and children, were killed in the past 48 hours in the assault in Homs.> BNN

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