Aleppo children
Children inspect rubble of damaged buildings in a rebel-held besieged area in Aleppo Abdalrhman Ismail / Reuters

Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad captured the largest rebel-held district in eastern Aleppo on Saturday, (26 November) Syrian state media reported.

In a statement, the Syrian army said along with allies, it gained control of Masaken Hanano housing district, which is located on the north- eastern front line of the eastern sector.

"Engineering teams are removing mines and improvised explosive devices planted by terrorists in the squares and streets," the statement read. According to activists, it could give the Syrian army line-of-fire control over other rebel-held areas.

Hanano was the first neighbourhood in Aleppo that was captured by the rebels in 2012. The army was just a few metres away from isolating the northern districts of eastern Aleppo from southern ones, Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights said. He said other areas of Aleppo were also targeted.

A member of a rebel group in Aleppo told Reuters that the map being circulated by state media showing regime forces in control of Hanano was largely accurate.

The Syrian regime resumed its attacks to recapture eastern Aleppo on 15 November after a week-long pause in bombardment and shelling. The air strikes were described as the most intense ever. "The revolutionaries are fighting fiercely but the volume of bombardments and the intensity of the battles, the dead and the wounded, and the lack of hospitals, are all playing a role in the collapse of these frontlines," said a member of Jabha Shamiya, one of the biggest rebel groups fighting Assad and his allies in northern Syria.

A UK-based monitor said at least 212 civilians were killed in the assault, of whom nearly 27 were children. According to reports, there is a severe shortage of food and medical supplies.

It would be a major victory for Assad if his forces managed to capture all of Aleppo. The city, once a commercial hub of Syria, is now divided into rebel-held east and government-controlled west.

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