Battle to break Aleppo’s siege continue amid heavy Russian airstrikes

Opposition fighters drive a tank in the Al-Huweiz area on southern outskirts of Aleppo as they battle to break the government seige on the northen Syrian city on August 2, 2016.  The Syrian regime's key ally Russia launched heavy air strikes overnight on the outskirts of divided Aleppo city, slowing a "last-chance" assault by rebels seeking to break a government siege.  / AFP / Omar haj kadour        (Photo credit should read OMAR HAJ KADOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Opposition fighters drive a tank in the Al-Huweiz area on southern outskirts of Aleppo as they battle to break the government seige on the northen Syrian city on August 2, 2016.
The Syrian regime’s key ally Russia launched heavy air strikes overnight on the outskirts of divided Aleppo city, slowing a “last-chance” assault by rebels seeking to break a government siege.
OMAR HAJ KADOUR/AFP/Getty Images

Intense fighting has continued around the Syrian city of Aleppo, where a rebel offensive is trying to break a government siege of rebel-held areas.

Over the weekend, the rebels tried to reconnect an encircled area in the east with insurgent territory in the west.

They set off a huge tunnel bomb underneath army positions in the strategic Ramouseh district. The army has been fighting back with the help of Russian air strikes to stop the rebels breaking through.

Around a quarter of a million civilians are living under siege in rebel-held areas since government forces cut them off last month. Photographs were released on Tuesday by state media purporting to show opposition gunmen surrendering to the Syrian army in Aleppo.

Much of Aleppo has been destroyed in recent fighting
“We are now overlooking the Ramousah area but Russian jets are intensifying their bombing, which is holding us back from moving quickly,” a rebel commander told Reuters news agency.

Another rebel source told Reuters that about 10,000 troops, at least 95 tanks and several hundred rocket launchers had been deployed for what he described as the “great epic battle of Aleppo”.

The source said scores of suicide bombers had also been prepared to drive explosive-laden military vehicles into army posts.

UK-based monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights described the rebel offensive as the largest so far, involving fighting across the divided city’s main battle fronts.

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