Syrian government forces 'retake largest rebel-held area of Aleppo'

Monitoring group says at least 201 civilians have been killed in 12 days since the renewed bombardment on eastern Aleppo

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The Independent Online

The Syrian government claims its army has retaken control of a key district in rebel-held eastern Aleppo.

Rebels have stated their frontlines have collapsed due to heavy air strikes and a lack of hospitals.

The government offensive into eastern Aleppo is aiming to split the anti-Assad stronghold into two, according to rebels themselves.

Before the civil war began more than six years ago, Aleppo was Syria's largest city and it has become the scene of some of the most bloody fighting.

The city has been divided between the government-held west and the rebel-held east.

The Syrian army said in a statement that, with the help of allies, they have taken control of the Hanano housing district - adding: "Engineering teams are removing mines and improvised explosive devices planted by terrorists in the squares and streets."

The district was first taken by armed opposition groups in 2012 who have said Hanano had been empty of residents for months.

According to the UN, at least 250,000 civilians are trapped in the years-long siege. An estimated 400,000 civilians have been killed during the civil war.

A spokesman for Jabha Shamiya, one of the leading rebel groups fighting President Bashar Al-assad, condemned the "international silence" regarding Aleppo.

Boy asks if he will die after alleged chlorine attack in Aleppo

He added that the government was taking advantage of the period before Donald Trump took office. 

The spokesman said: "The Iranians, Russians and regime know there is a vacuum and they are trying to exploit it using all means.

"We are in touch with the friendly states but unfortunately Aleppo is being left to be slaughtered."

In the 12 days since the renewed bombardment on eastern Aleppo, at least 201 civilians including 27 children have died in the sector - according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory of Human Rights.