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.’’