Rebel Factions Unite Under ‘Army of Aleppo’ in Defense of Eastern Districts

Opposition factions merge to form new coalition in the wake of devastating regime-led offensive to recapture the last remaining rebel-held areas of Syria's second city

Key rebel factions fighting in eastern Aleppo have announced a plan form a single military council, Jayish Halab (Army of Aleppo), to defend the besieged neighborhoods. Meanwhile, local activists claim hundreds have been killed by the renewed regime offensive in the past few days, adding that about 250,000 others face imminent extermination.

A rebel official said that opposition fighters had managed to stabilize new front lines in Aleppo, but were currently fighting to push back pro-regime militias that sought to advance from the south.

Regime forces, backed by Shiite militias from Iran, Lebanon and Iraq, broke through into the rebel-held area from the northeast flank last week. Up to 20,000 people have fled the regime offensive in rebel-held eastern Aleppo in 48 hours, the International Committee of the Red Cross said Tuesday.

The rebel official said the outgoing Obama administration was paying little attention to events Syria, as President Bashar al-Assad and his allies try to exploit the current situation while Western states fail to act.

In the last few days, Aleppo’s rebels have lost more than a third of the area they held in the east of the city following a regime assault that has so far killed hundreds of people and uprooted thousands more.

Rebels meanwhile fought fiercely to stop government forces advancing deeper into the opposition-held enclave Tuesday, confronting pro-regime militias who sought to move into the area from the southeast, a rebel official said.

The attack on eastern Aleppo threatens to snuff out the most important urban center of the revolt against Assad, who has been firmly on the offensive for more than a year thanks to Russian and Iranian military support.

Capturing rebel-held eastern Aleppo would signal the biggest victory to date for Assad in the conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands of people since it arose out of protests against his rule nearly six years ago.

As Russia and Iran have stuck steadfastly by Assad, the rebels say their foreign backers including the United States have left them to their fate in their besieged enclave of eastern Aleppo, Syria's biggest city before the civil war.

This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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