Monitor: Syrian rebels seize facilities in Aleppo

Group says government military sites fall; regime, allied Russians fight back

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Syrian rebels Saturday seized government military facilities in Aleppo in their attempt to break a regime siege on the opposition-held section in the northern city, a monitoring group reported.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the rebels took control of the Armament School and large parts of an artillery base in the southwestern parts of Aleppo.

The rebels also captured edges of an air force facility in the same area from the regime forces, according to the Britain-based observatory, which relies on a network of activists in Syria.

Syrian state television reported that government forces were moving closer to the facilities captured by the opposition and had killed “dozens of terrorists” — a term the regime uses when referring to rebels. Airstrikes by regime and allied Russians targeted rebels in the area in an attempt to stop their advance, according to the observatory.

A rebel commander said opposition forces were able to capture the Armament School after they detonated five car bombs that resulted in the “total collapse” of the defenses of government troops there.

On Thursday, opposition forces, including Islamist insurgents, launched their second offensive in a week in Aleppo. About 500 fighters from both sides have been killed in the fight in Aleppo, the observatory said.

Last month, the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad imposed a tight siege on rebel-held eastern Aleppo, raising fears of a humanitarian disaster.

Once Syria’s commercial hub, Aleppo has been divided between government forces in the west and rebels in the east since fighting erupted for control of the city in mid-2012.