Syrian troops tighten Aleppo siege, tell gunmen to give up
BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian government forces on Tuesday captured new ground on the northwestern edge of the city of Aleppo, tightening the siege on rebel-held parts of the metropolis where some 300,000 people live, activists said.
The Syrian army also called on the opposition fighters to drop their weapons and give themselves up to authorities.
The push in which troops captured large parts of the city's Layramoun area came as state TV reported that the General Army Command informed residents of rebel-held parts of Aleppo via telephone text messages that the army has created several safe passages and makeshift centers for whoever wants to leave those areas.
The army said it will keep providing Aleppo residents with basic necessities, but called all those living in rebel-held parts of the city to kick out "mercenaries and foreign fighters."
Syrian government forces and their allies have been on the offensive around the Aleppo, Syria's largest city and former commercial center, for weeks. Since earlier this month, they have tightened their siege and residents in rebel-held parts have been reporting food shortages.
Syrian army says cut off all supply routes into east Aleppo
The Syrian army said on Wednesday it had cut off all supply routes into eastern Aleppo, and the government air-dropped thousands of leaflets there, asking residents to cooperate with the army and calling on fighters to surrender.
President Bashar al Assad's initiative comes a day after the United Nations said it hopes to restart peace talks in August.
Previous attempts at a diplomatic solution to end Syria's five-year-old civil war collapsed in April, partly due to an uptick in violence in Aleppo.
On Tuesday, the army texted residents to ask them to leave the city and to give up their weapons.
Concern for those trapped in the rebel-held part of Aleppo is rising. The U.N. aid chief asked on Monday for weekly 48-hour pauses in fighting to allow food and aid to be delivered.
Once Syria's largest city, Aleppo has been divided between rebel-controlled and government-held sectors all through the civil war. Taking full control of the city would be a significant victory for Assad.
Numerous vague and often contradictory reports last night that rebel resistance suddenly collapsed in the north Aleppo suburb of Bani Zeid, which was facing encirclement due to recent SAA advances in the Layramoun factory district and yesterday's recapture of the Layramoun bus terminal - last point before the Castilo road. If the rebels are indeed abandoning Bani Zeid, it means the encirclement of rebel forces in East Aleppo is all but completed.
Report now that the Syrian Tiger forces, advancing from the north, and the Syrian 4th Mechanized division, advancing from the south through the Layramoun industrial park have now met on the Castilo road.