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Civilians fleeing militant-held side of Syria’s Aleppo

Syrian families, from various eastern districts of Aleppo, are evacuated by bus through Sheikh Maksoud, a Kurdish-controlled enclave between the government-held west of Aleppo and the east, on November 27, 2016. (Photos by AFP)

Thousands of civilians have escaped militant-held areas of the Syrian city of Aleppo and entered government-held areas, says a UK-based monitoring group.

According to the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday, some 10,000 civilians have evacuated Aleppo’s eastern side since late Saturday.

"At least 6,000 of them went to the neighborhood of Sheikh Maksoud, and the rest went to government zones of Aleppo," added the monitoring group.

Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city, remains divided between government forces in the west and foreign-backed terrorists in the east, making it a frontline battleground.

Meanwhile, Syrian government forces have retaken six militant held areas in east Aleppo since the beginning of the weekend, including Jabal Badra and Baadeeen Inzarat neighborhoods.

The development came only a day after Syrian forces established full control over the adjacent Hanano neighborhood which used to serve as a major stronghold of militant groups in eastern Aleppo since 2012. Militants used the region to launch attacks against areas under the control of government forces in the divided city.

The observatory noted that Syrian government forces are now "in control of most of the northern part."  

Syrian government forces fire a Russian 122mm howitzer gun as they advance in the recently recaptured village of Joubah during an offensive towards the area of al-Bab in Aleppo province, on November 25, 2016. 

The militants have been dealt heavy blows over the past few months amid advances made by Syrian army forces and their allies on the ground, with the support of Russia’s aerial campaign.  

The foreign-backed conflict in Syria, which flared up in March 2011, has claimed the lives of more than 400,000 people, according to an estimate by UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

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