Spotlight: Syrian army kills 300 rebels in tightening siege of Aleppo

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DAMASCUS, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) — Over 300 rebels were killed Friday as extremist groups failed to storm a military base and open a supply route in Syria’s northern province of Aleppo, according to a military source and official Syrian media.

The rebels of Jaish al-Fateh, or the Conquer Army, failed to capture the Artillery College, following a wide-scale offensive they launched on Friday targeting that facility in southern Aleppo countryside, said the source on condition of anonymity.

The rebel group claimed that it captured portion of the artillery collage on Friday, a claim denied by the state news agency SANA.

Syrian military media outlets published photos of what it said were booby-trapped vehicles destroyed before reaching the military college.

Pro-government Sham FM said the army destroyed six explosive-laden vehicles near the college.

Meanwhile, Syria’s national TV said the Syrian forces killed over 300 rebels who attacked the artillery school and nearby military colleges in southwest Aleppo.

The TV also cited officers at the military colleges as stressing that they are at their offices and that the situation is under control.

The military source told Xinhua that a group of rebels infiltrated the fences of the artillery college, but they were all killed.

He added that calm prevails the military colleges, except some cracks when the army fired at the rebels who were trying to withdraw the bodies of the killed ones.

The source said Friday’s attack involved a high number of rebels, adding that the militants have used all kinds of weapons in the offensive.

He added that the rebel attack in southwestern Aleppo was coupled with renewed mortar and rocket attacks on government-controlled areas in Aleppo city, mainly the Hamadaniyeh district.

The state TV said Syrians in Aleppo rushed to donate blood for those wounded in Friday’s attack and the injured Syrian soldiers.

Jaish al-Fateh, an alliance of several rebel groups, which was previously known as the Nusra Front before breaking ties with al-Qaida, has unleashed five offensives in the southern countryside of Aleppo over the past two weeks, in a bid to break a recently-imposed siege by the Syrian army.

The military source said that after repeatedly failing to open a route from southern Aleppo into the besieged eastern part, the rebels in eastern Aleppo announced starting battles from inside the eastern Aleppo neighborhoods to break the siege.

Last month, the Syrian army severed the last rebel supply route connecting rebel-held areas in the northern countryside of Aleppo with rebel-controlled parts in the eastern part of the city.

With the progress made, the Syrian army has fully besieged eastern Aleppo, urging the rebels to surrender themselves and the civilians to cooperate.

Moreover, President Bashar al-Assad announced an amnesty for the rebels who surrender themselves and their weapons to the authorities.

The Syrian authorities in cooperation with the Russians also opened three safe passages for civilians wishing to leave eastern Aleppo. They also opened a fourth one for the rebels who would want to surrender themselves.

On Tuesday, SANA said dozens of families evacuated eastern districts in Aleppo, the second batch to leave the city since the government offered the safe passages.

SANA also said rebel fighters surrendered themselves to the authorities. Video clips of rebels surrendering were aired on several Syrian TVs.

Aleppo, Syria’s largest province and once a thriving economic metropolis, has witnessed intensified violent battles lately as the Syrian army advances against the rebels in the north.

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