At least 70 combatants in the deadly street war for control of Aleppo have been killed in the last 24 hours amid heavy aerial bombardment in the city. The Syria Observatory for Human Rights reported that Assad regime forces had retaken positions in Aleppo's around Khelsa and Zetan districts as they clashed with rebels backed by al-Qaeda's Jabhat al-Nusra.
Barrel bombs were dropped on other areas of the Aleppo, the observer reported, with one child killed in Kafar Hamra. Air strikes have also continued to pound the Castillo area and the one road out of the embattled city, trapping civilians in rebel-held areas.
The German government has been forced to deny claims by the Assad regime that its special forces have been fighting in Syria. Reports in Syrian state media claimed German and French elite troops had been deployed on the ground and in what the officials had called an "unjustified aggression".
Der Speigel quoted a spokesman for the German Defense Ministry as refuting the news. "There is no German special forces in Syria. The accusations are false," he said.
On 9 June the French government confirmed French Special Forces had been deployed in Syria in a non-combat role to aid US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces to take on the Islamic State
The Associated Press reported that the French Special Forces are offering training and advice to fighters in northern Syria, quoting an unnamed official. "We are helping with arms, we are helping with aerial support, we are helping with advice," French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian commented last week.
The news emerged just days after reports that British special forces had engaged on the ground against the IS (Isis/Daesh) in the village of al-Tanf, making regular journeys over the border from Jordan to the strategic position.
Aleppo is roughly divided between rebel-held areas to the east and those loyal to the regime of Bashar al-Assad in the west. The two sides frequently fire shells into each other's neighbourhoods, often with civilians often caught in the crossfire. al-Assad's forces are also dropping so-called 'barrel bombs' from helicopters, whilst backed by the Russians, who have also launched many air strikes in a bid to secure al-Assad's Presidency.
Since the Syrian civil war started in 2011, hundreds of thousands of people have died along with millions facing displacement, with many of them attempting to reach Europe in what has been deemed the worst refugee crisis since World War II.