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6 Dec, 2016 23:17

Syrian army liberates more Aleppo districts, seizes militant command center

Syrian army liberates more Aleppo districts, seizes militant command center

Syrian government forces have reclaimed five more districts in the eastern part of Aleppo, according to the Russian Center for Reconciliation. Some reports suggest up to 85 percent of the area, previously controlled by rebels, has now been liberated.

“By the evening of December 6, the Syrian army established full control over five more neighborhoods in eastern Aleppo,” the Reconciliation Center said in a statement on Tuesday. This puts the number of eastern Aleppo neighborhoods liberated from rebels in the recent offensive by government forces to 35, it said.

READ MORE: 'Cynical & indifferent': Russian MoD slams Red Cross statement on shelling of hospital in Aleppo

According to Syrian state news agency Sana, the Syrian army inflicted “heavy losses” upon militants in five neighborhoods and forced many to flee. The army also reportedly prevented a planned car bomb attack on a military post, which allegedly had been intended to boost the “deteriorating morale of the terrorists.”

Aleppo has been split between the Syrian government and rebel and militant factions since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011. Since operations to liberate the eastern districts of Aleppo in mid-November began, the Syrian army has made successful advances and now controls 65 percent of the city, the military said.

Meanwhile, according to Almasdar news, by Tuesday night the government was in control of up to 85 percent of Eastern Aleppo.

According to the Russian side, a strategic area with a fortified medical facility was claimed by Syrian troops during fierce fighting in the Balalat neighborhood on Tuesday. Militants turned the hospital complex into a large command post more than a year ago. It had artillery positions, which provided the terrorists with full fire control of two nearby highways and facilitated the shelling of residential areas in the western part of Aleppo.

The fortified hospital building also reportedly contained a large ammunition depot for the production of improvised missiles, used in the shelling of government-held areas.

The advances of the Syrian army allowed more than 302 civilians to move from eastern districts to Aleppo's safe areas. It also provided for the return of 1,100 people to their homes in liberated areas during the last 24 hours. “All of them have been provided with hot meals, medical care... and warm clothes,” the statement said.

Ten militants, who opted to lay down arms and surrender, were granted amnesty in accordance with a decision made by Syrian President Bashar Assad.

In the meantime, those jihadists who reject Damascus' and Moscow's calls to withdraw from the city have intensified the shelling of civilian areas in eastern Aleppo.

‘More than limited reaction’ to murder of Russian medics in Aleppo

On Monday, two Russian medical specialists were killed and another injured in a mortar attack on a mobile military hospital in Aleppo. Moscow regretted the “more than limited” reaction to the killing of the Russian medic by the international community, in particular from US partners, Russia’s Presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said.

“The Russian side is virtually single-handedly trying to provide humanitarian assistance to the residents who flee from eastern Aleppo, escaping from the captivity of the militants,” Peskov stressed, adding that the Kremlin would welcome a “more proactive stance” from the West on the issue.

France was the only Western government to officially condemn the shelling of a Russian mobile hospital in Aleppo.

“France condemns the December 5 shelling, which targeted a hospital in western part of Aleppo and killed several civilians as well as two medics,” Romain Nadal, French Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in a statement. According to the French side, the Aleppo attack “represent[ed] a new serious violation of the norms of international law.”

“France urges all the parties of the conflict to provide protection to medical workers and medical facilities in accordance with the Resolution 2286 of the UN Security Council (UNSC),” Nadal stressed.

An unnamed representative of the UK’s Foreign Office told RIA-Novosti that the county condemned all manifestations of violence against civilians and medical personnel, but no official statements were made.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said that they “deeply regret the loss of health staff while carrying out their medical work.”

“It is clear that shelling medics and their patients is completely unacceptable, and, whether done in a targeted or an indiscriminate attack, is a violation of the rules of war,” the aid group said in a statement. However, MSF added that it “cannot speak of the details of the reported attack on a Russian-run field hospital on December 5.”

READ MORE: Russia, China veto ‘counterproductive’ UNSC resolution on Aleppo ceasefire

The UN also condemned the targeting of the Russian medical field facility.

“The Secretary‑General indeed condemns the reported attack on a Russian mobile field hospital in West Aleppo,” Stephane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General told reporters.

“The Secretary‑General recalls that civilian and civilian infrastructure, including medical and health facilities, are protected under International Humanitarian Law,” the spokesman added.