VIDEO: Syrian Army, Hezbollah Start Operation to Retake Northern Aleppo from ISIS

Fri Apr 15, 2016 10:21:06

Syrian army soldiers together with fighters from the Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah, have mounted a large-scale military operation to liberate swathes of land in the strategic northwestern province of Aleppo from the clutches of foreign-backed Takfiri militants.

On Thursday, Syrian forces backed by Russia's air power, pressed a fierce offensive just north of the provincial capital city of Aleppo, located some 355 kilometers (220 miles) north of the capital, Damascus, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

Heavy fighting was reported around the Handarat region, where Syrian government forces and Hezbollah fighters sought to cut off a crucial supply line of Takfiri terrorists.

Both Russian and Syrian planes were carrying out airstrikes on and around Handarat, said the head of the UK-based monitoring group, Rami Abdel Rahman.

Also on Thursday, Syrian army units targeted the positions of al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front militants in al-Eis and Kafar Naha villages of Aleppo Province, killing scores of terrorists and destroying their vehicles in the process.

Syrian soldiers also carried out operations against the strongholds of Takfiri ISIS terrorists in Abu Taltal and al-Madiouniyeh villages, which lie in the northeastern part of the province, killing a number of terrorists. A number of the Takfiris’ vehicles, some equipped with machine guns, were also destroyed.

Meanwhile, a Syrian air force fighter jet was reportedly shot down by ISIS militants.

The monitoring group said it had received information that the aircraft may have been brought down near Khalkhala airport, northeast of the city of Suwayda. The pilot is reported to have been rescued.

The developments come amid a ceasefire brokered by the US and Russia that went into effect on February 27 across Syria to pave the way for a political solution to the crisis in the Arab country. The truce agreement does not apply to ISIS Takfiris and al-Nusra Front terrorists.

Thursday’s operation was launched a day after UN-brokered peace talks between the Syrian government and foreign-backed opposition resumed in Geneva. On Wednesday, UN envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura stressed that the ceasefire was mostly observed despite a recent "deterioration" in some areas.

According to a February report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research, the conflict has claimed the lives of over 470,000 people, injured 1.9 million others, and displaced nearly half of the pre-war population of about 23 million within or beyond Syria’s borders, Press TV reported.

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