Syrian troops backed by Hezbollah and Iranian fighters launched an offensive south of Aleppo on Friday, expanding the army’s counter-attack against rebels across western Syria with support from Russian air strikes, Reuters reports.
The assault means the army is now pressing insurgents on several fronts near Syria’s main cities in the west.
Aleppo, a commercial and industrial hub near the border with Turkey, was Syria’s largest city before its four-year civil war, which grew out of protests against Assad’s rule.
Control of the city, still home to two million people, is divided between the government and rebels.
“This is the promised battle,” a senior military source in Syria said of the offensive backed by hundreds of Hezbollah and Iranian forces which he said had made some gains on the ground.