More than half of the extremist-held areas of eastern Aleppo have been recaptured by forces loyal to the Syrian government.

The battle for Aleppo has been deadlocked for the past four years, but Syrian troops backed by Russian air strikes and Iranian-backed Shia militias have now made significant breakthroughs in a new offensive launched last month (15 November).

According to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Bashar al-Assad's forces have reclaimed over 60% of the northern city, after the Tariq al-Bab district fell on Friday (2 November).

They were previously occupied by the western-backed Free Syrian Army and Jabah Fatah al-Sham, formerly known as the al-Nusra Front linked to al-Qaeda.

A spokesman for the SOHR said: "The regime forces, backed by gunmen loyal to them, managed to advance and control the Tariq al-Bab neighbourhood in northeast of Aleppo, after heavy clashes against the rebel and Islamic factions which controlled the area since 21 of July of 2012.

"With this control, the regime forces have been able to secure the new road of Aleppo International Airport, which Russia seeks to use it in the coming period.

"Clashes were accompanied by artillery shelling by the regime forces and bombing by warplanes on clashing areas, and during these clashes tens of faction fighters and members of the regime forces were wounded and killed."

It follows other major victories for Assad's forces as they captured the Hanano and Jabal Badro districts last week.

If successful, retaking Aleppo would be considered a huge boost for Assad as it strengthens his grip on power.

However, as the battle rages on, the UN has warned that eastern Aleppo risks becoming a "giant graveyard" for the 250,000-plus civilians trapped there.

Tens of thousands have fled, however, activists have reported that over 300 civilians have died since the offensive began.