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Syria retakes Aleppo district

ALEPPO, Syria (AFP) – Syrian state media said government forces Saturday captured the largest rebel-held district of Aleppo, in what would be a major breakthrough in its offensive to retake the entire second city.

Masaken Hanano was the first district the rebels took in the summer of 2012 in a move that divided Aleppo into an eastern area held by the insurgents and a western district controlled by government forces.

Since then, more than 250,000 civilians have been trapped under government siege for months in the rebel-held east, with dwindling food and fuel supplies.

The capture of Masaken Hanano in northeastern Aleppo is part of a major government offensive now in its 12th day that could isolate that part of the city from rebel-held areas in the south.

Since November 15, regime bombardment of eastern Aleppo has killed 212 civilians, including 27 children, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Regime forces had been advancing inside Masaken Hanano for several days, and on Friday state television said they were progressing ‘‘from three axes.’’

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