Syrian government forces take biggest rebel-held district of Aleppo

With Aleppo being a magnet for the conflict, humanitarian organizations have sounded the alarm about the worsening humanitarian situation in that city, as a result of the prolonged battles, the shelling by the rebels on government areas, and the Syrian forces airstrikes on rebel-held areas.

Anti-government fighters in east Aleppo have agreed to a plan for aid deliveries and medical evacuations, according to United Nations officials, but the global body is awaiting a "green light" from Russian Federation and the Syrian government before it can begin operations.

In the past year, Syrian troops have broken the deadlock with the help of Iranian-backed militias and Russian air strikes.

Aleppo, once Syria's commercial and industrial hub, has been divided roughly in two since 2012, with the government controlling the west and rebels the east. Capturing all of Aleppo would be a major victory for Assad after more than six years of fighting.

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A couple of days ago, Turkey accused the Syrian air force of striking an area near al-Bab, killing three Turkish soldiers.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said that regime forces were now in complete control of Masaken Hanano and had started an assault on Sakhur and nearby Al Haidariya. The government transferred most of the populations of those areas to Idlib, a northwestern province with poor infrastructure predominantly controlled by armed anti-government groups.

Battles, accompanied by intense shelling, have raged since midnight Thursday between the government forces and an array of rebel groups in Masaken Hanano, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Yasser al-Yousef, from the political office of the Nour al-Din al-Zinki rebel group, said insurgents had fought fiercely for more than 48 hours to defend Hanano and the southern front of east Aleppo from heavy government bombardment.

More than 250,000 civilians have been trapped under siege for months in rebel-held eastern Aleppo, with dwindling food and fuel supplies.

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On the morning of November 9, as the US presidential votes were being counted, residents of rebel-held eastern Aleppo, which has been under total siege since July, were trying to find some consolation in dark humor. Food stocks are running low, causing the prices of basic food items such as bread, flour, lentils and milk to skyrocket, said Ingy Sedky, spokeswoman of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Damascus.

As the Assad regime presses a fierce assault on eastern Aleppo, its siege is making life ever harder for civilians who are being forced to sift through garbage for food and scavenge firewood from bombed-out buildings.

At least 49 civilians have been killed in regime bombardment on the rebel stronghold since November 17, nearly half of them children, said the Observatory. There were 134 rebel fighter deaths.

Syrian army units evacuated the civilians to safety, it added.

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