Fierce clashes have broken out between Syrian government forces and militants trying to break the siege around the city of Aleppo, says a UK-based monitoring group.
According to the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, fighting broke out on several fronts of the city’s outskirts late on Sunday.
“It will be a long and difficult battle,” said Observatory Director Rami Abdel Rahman.
Meanwhile, dozens of people have been killed and wounded by militant shelling in residential areas in the city. According to reports, a child is among those killed in the attacks.
Aleppo has been divided between the government forces and militants since 2012, a year after conflict broke out in the Arab country. Army forces are in the middle of a large military operation to liberate the militant-held parts of the province.
Earlier, Syria’s official SANA news agency reported that dozens of Syrian families have left the besieged militant-controlled eastern parts of Aleppo through humanitarian passages set up by the Syrian army.
The Syrian government, backed by Russia, launched a large-scale humanitarian relief operation in Aleppo on Friday and created corridors providing civilians and the militants, who chose to surrender, the opportunity to leave the city.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-sponsored militancy since March 2011. The Takfiri terrorists operating in the Arab country have suffered major setbacks over the past few months as the Syrian army has managed to liberate several areas from the grip of the extremists.
United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimates that over 400,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict. The UN has stopped its official casualty count in Syria, citing its inability to verify the figures it receives from various sources.