Syrian fighters claim several villages near Aleppo

A coalition of Syrian rebel groups, including Nusra Front, make gains near strategic city of Aleppo.

    Syrian fighters have seized a town and several villages in Syria's northern Aleppo province from troops and allied Shia forces amid intense fighting.

    A coalition of rebel groups, including the Nusra Front, announced on Saturday that they had taken back control of Tal Bajer in the southwestern countryside of Aleppo, after losing it to Syrian troops backed by Lebanese Hezbollah fighters and Iranian forces two weeks ago.

    Nusra Front released drone footage that purports to show Iranian forces fleeing from rebels advancing on the town with tanks.

    But as fighting continues near the borders with Turkey, fears of a regional conflict loom large.

    Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from Yayladagi on Turkey's border with Syria, said Turkey and Russia are divided over Syria's civil war as Russians are staunch allies of President Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey insists the Syrian president must go.

    "They believe the Russians use the fight against ISIL as a cover to bolster Assad's chances to stay in power," Ahelbarra said. "And that ISIL can only be defeated if Assad is forced out of power."

    Opposition forces have inflicted painful losses on Syrian troops and their allies in the area, successfully repelling their advances despite Russian air strikes.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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