A general view taken with a drone shows a mosque where forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad are stationed in Aleppo's government-controlled area of al-Masharqa, Syria October 20, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]
A general view taken with a drone shows a mosque where forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad are stationed in Aleppo's government-controlled area of al-Masharqa, Syria October 20, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

The civilians fled overnight toward areas under the government control in western Aleppo, as the Syrian army was advancing in rebel-held areas in eastern Aleppo, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

State news agency SANA also reported the evacuation of tens of civilians from the Masaken Hanano.

A day earlier, the military forces retook the Masaken Hanano area, following battles with the rebels’ Jaish al-Fateh, or the Army of Conquest, during which assorted kinds of weapons were used amid artillery shelling that targeted the rebels’ supply lines in the area, SANA said.

Masaken Hanano is the largest rebel-held district in eastern Aleppo, and was also the first area stormed by rebels in mid-2012.

Observers say capturing the Hanano area will expose the Sakhour neighborhood to the Syrian army, enabling it to isolate the northern part of the rebel-held areas in eastern Aleppo from the southern one.

The Observatory, which says it relies on a network of activists on ground, said the Syrian forces were achieving rapid progress in eastern Aleppo, where over 250,000 civilians are trapped.

For months, the Syrian government and Russia have been urging rebels to leave Aleppo, offering them safe passages to other rebel-held areas in the northwestern province of Idlib.

The rebels, however, turned down all offers, which has resulted in intensified violence.

Aleppo is a city in Syria, serving as the capital of the Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate.For centuries, Aleppo was the Syrian region’s largest city and the Ottoman Empire’s third-largest, after Constantinople and Cairo. With an official population of 2,132,100 (2004 census), it was Syria’s largest city and also one of the largest cities in the Levant before the advent of the Syrian Civil War.

Aleppo is an ancient metropolis, and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world; it may have been inhabited since the 6th millennium BC. Excavations at Tell as-Sawda and Tell al-Ansari, just south of the old city of Aleppo, show that the area was occupied since at least the latter part of the 3rd millennium BC; and this is also when Aleppo is first mentioned in cuneiform tablets unearthed in Ebla and Mesopotamia, in which it is noted for its commercial and military proficiency. Such a long history is attributed to its strategic location as a trading center midway between the Mediterranean Sea and Mesopotamia (i.e. modern Iraq).

The city’s significance in history has been its location at one end of the Silk Road, which passed through central Asia and Mesopotamia. When the Suez Canal was inaugurated in 1869, trade was diverted to sea and Aleppo began its slow decline. At the fall of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, Aleppo ceded its northern hinterland to modern Turkey, as well as the important railway connecting it to Mosul. In the 1940s, it lost its main access to the sea, Antioch and Alexandretta, also to Turkey. Finally, the isolation of Syria in the past few decades further exacerbated the situation. This decline may have helped to preserve the old city of Aleppo, its medieval architecture and traditional heritage. It won the title of the “Islamic Capital of Culture 2006”, and has had a wave of successful restorations of its historic landmarks.

Since the Battle of Aleppo started in 2012, the city has suffered massive destruction, and has been the worst-hit city in the Syrian civil war. It is currently split between the government-held western part of Syria and the rebel-held east.

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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