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Syrian Civil War: Rebel coalition seeks to retake all of Aleppo after rebuffing Assad siege attempt

The Army of Conquest, a coalition of Syrian rebel groups, has announced its intention to retake all of Aleppo following an attempt by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces to seize the rebel-controlled half of the city. 

Over the weekend, the Syrian government attempted to retake several districts in Syria’s second-biggest city. They seized some military facilities in the city’s southwest and pounded the rebel-held areas with artillery fire and airstrikes in an attempt to reverse previous rebel advances.

“We announce the start of a new phase to liberate all of Aleppo,” the group said. “We will not rest until we raise the flag of the conquest over Aleppo’s citadel.”

The rebel fighters celebrated on Saturday the breaking of a month-long siege by Assad’s forces; ensuing public celebrations were dampened by continued Syrian and Russian airstrikes. The reopening of some roads allowed the rebels to bring food convoys to some 300,000 besieged residents.

Saturday marked a breakthrough for the rebel fighters as they were able to push northeast into the district of Romasa and take control of key military facilities. There, they rejoined other rebel forces who had been fighting within the government-controlled western half of the city.

Emboldened by their gains, the rebels announced their intention to redouble their efforts to retake all of Aleppo. But in the protracted battle for the city that has raged since 2012, nothing is certain and civilians suffer the enormous strain of a bitter and sectarian war.

“Most recently I’m hearing that the markets are closed and it’s next to impossible to purchase food,” said Christy Delafield, senior communications officer for Mercy Corps.

“The UN estimates that collectively all aid supplies in east Aleppo will only last about two more weeks.”

Although the retaking of government-controlled districts has opened corridors for the sending of food convoys in rebel-held areas, the change of hands has reduced food access in west Aleppo, and the rebel coalition lacks sufficient resources to provide for citizens of the retaken areas.

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