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Militants cut regime supply route to Syria's Aleppo: Monitor

AFP , Monday 22 Feb 2016
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The Islamic State (IS) group and other militants on Monday cut a vital supply route linking the west of Syria's second city Aleppo with other government-held territory, a monitoring group said.

The road between Aleppo and the town of Khanasser to the southeast was the only way regime forces and civilians living in government-controlled neighbourhoods of the city could travel to surrounding provinces.

If government forces are unable to recapture the road, it could slow an offensive they launched in the countryside around Aleppo earlier this year.

And it could worsen severe shortages of food and water for civilians.

"Militants from the Caucasus and from (China's mainly Muslim region of) Xinjiang, as well as the militants group Jund al-Aqsa, cut the route from the south after a surprise attack," said Syrian Observatory for Human Rights chief Rami Abdel Rahman.

"And fighters from IS group cut off a different part of the route from the northern side at the same time," Abdel Rahman said.

Thousands of foreign fighters have flocked to Syria over the past two years, many of them taking up arms with Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front, IS group or Jund al-Aqsa.

It is not the first time that the government's supply route to Aleppo has been cut.

Rebel cut it in 2013 and IS group did so last year before being pushed back.

The new setback comes with government troops on the offensive north and west of Aleppo, where rebel forces in the east of the city are almost completely surrounded.

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