03:43 GMT29 May 2020
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    The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies are reported to have freed the al-Sakhour neighborhood of eastern Aleppo earlier on Monday, separating southern and northern jihadist-held districts of the embattled city in what would be a major victory that could well determine the outcome of the years-long war.

    The government-led offensive in eastern Aleppo "has been so fast that jihadists have failed to make countermoves," journalist Evgeny Krutikov wrote for Vzglyad. "At the same time the government in Damascus has started to assemble special forces and units to rebuild the devastated city. In the near future Syrian authorities will need to help many refugees settle in new homes."

    The SAA encircled areas held by radical groups in late July, launching a major operation aimed at freeing the city in September. It is said to be in control of approximately a third of eastern Aleppo at the moment. Earlier on Monday, Damascus-led forces pushed the militants out of the al-Sakhour neighborhood, cutting the rebel-held neighborhoods in two separate parts.

    The plan aimed at dividing eastern Aleppo into several pockets has turned out to be efficient "both in terms of psychology and military strategy," Krutikov observed.

    "The militants are leaving northeastern areas of the city since they are afraid that they will be locked there. Fatah Halab has withdrawn from the Haidaria district and is retreating from Bustan al-Basha. The SAA has largely taken Ba'ibdin under control, as well as liberated Duwayr al-Jandul and Ayn at-Tal," he detailed.

    Damascus-led forces liberated a total of eight Aleppo neighborhoods on Sunday, the Russian Ministry of Defense reported, adding that "more than 2,500 civilians, including more than 800 children, have been evacuated from the liberated areas."

    The SAA operation in eastern Aleppo has been successful due to a blitz-offensive of the Tiger Forces, also known as Qawat Al-Nimr, in the Hanano district late last week.

    The campaign "has sparked panic among some militants and locals," Krutikov observed. "It may safely be said that civilians are leaving eastern Aleppo en masse for the first time since humanitarian corridors were opened. The militants have continued to hinder this process by placing mines on the roads leading to checkpoints."


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    jihadist rebels, Islamic extremism, radical Islam, military operation in Syria, military operation, Syrian crisis, Syrian conflict, Syrian Arab Army, East Aleppo, Aleppo, Syria
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