The Syrian army is on the verge of reclaiming Aleppo, a victory that could change the course of the long and bloody five-year civil war. On Monday, Syrian forces — loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, and supported by Russia and Iranian-backed militias — retook rebel-held territories in northeastern Aleppo, seizing ten neighborhoods that were among the first to resist Assad at the start of the conflict, in 2012.
The Syrian army has now chopped off a third of the rebels’ territory after nearly two weeks of intense fighting and Russian air strikes, and now controls almost all of northern Aleppo, reports the Washington Post. Rebels have now ceded more than 40 percent of their territory.
As rebels surrendered, nearly 10,000 civilians fled to government- or Kurdish-controlled safe zones; others made their way to the south, where rebels retain control. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 225 civilians, including children, have been killed in the government siege of Aleppo. More than 1,000 are believed to have been wounded. (Rebels, who are firing back on government-held territories, have also inflicted an estimated 27 civilian casualties.) About a quarter-million Aleppo civilians are caught in the crossfire as the government makes its final push; they lack food, water, and adequate medical care because air strikes have destroyed or ruined parts of the last functioning hospitals.