More than third of Aleppo captured by Syria government troops, civilians flee

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Syrian government forces captured more than a third of opposition-held eastern Aleppo on Monday, touching off a wave of panic and flight from the besieged enclave as rebel defenses in the country’s largest city rapidly collapsed.

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer says the gains could mark a turning point in Syria’s 5-and-a-half-year war, threatening to dislodge armed opponents of President Bashar Assad from their last major urban stronghold.

Reclaiming all of Aleppo, Syria’s former commercial capital, would be the biggest prize of the war for Assad. It would put his forces in control of the country’s four largest cities as well as the coastal region, and cap a year of steady government advances.

Palmer says three months of non-stop shelling and bombing appear to finally have paid off for Syria’s army, its allies and its Russian backers. Troops punched into rebel-held eastern Aleppo over the weekend and by Monday evening, they controlled 40 percent of the territory that had been grabbed by the opposition since 2012.

All day on Monday, civilians streamed steadily out of the battle zone.

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