BEIRUT: Syrian regime forces advanced in the battleground city of Aleppo on Friday, backed by a Russian air campaign that a monitor said has killed more than 3,800 civilians in the past year, reports agencies.
The Doctors Without Borders (MSF) charity accused Syria’s government and its ally Moscow of provoking a “bloodbath” in the city, saying the eastern rebel-held portion had become “a giant kill box”.
Syria’s army was advancing on two Aleppo fronts, as talks between key players Washington and Moscow—which back opposing sides in the war—appeared on the verge of collapse.
Damascus’s bid to recapture all of the divided city prompted the UN to warn of “a humanitarian catastrophe.”
Just over a week after it announced an operation to recapture all of Aleppo, the army was advancing both in northern and central Aleppo, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor and Syrian state media.
In the north, it recaptured the Handarat former Palestinian refugee camp, as well as the old Kindi hospital, said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.
Rebels had held the hospital since 2013 and capturing it allows government forces to threaten the opposition-held Heluk and Haydariyeh neighbourhoods in northeast Aleppo.
“The regime’s strategy is to chip away until it reaches the heart of the rebel-held areas,” Abdel Rahman said.
In central Aleppo meanwhile, fierce clashes shook the Suleiman al-Halabi neighbourhood, which is divided by the frontline that separates the rebel-held east and regime-held west. The army is seeking to capture the opposition-held part of the district and advance to the main water supply station for the government-controlled part of Aleppo which is located in the neighbourhood.
Syrian state television said eight civilians had been killed and 35 wounded by rocket fire on the government-held part of Suleiman al-Halabi and neighbouring Midan district.
The Observatory and an AFP correspondent on the ground said air strikes on Friday were focused on the battlefield, unlike in previous days, which had seen heavy bombardment of civilian areas.