Rebel-held areas of Syria's Aleppo fully besieged

Men look for survivors amid rubble of damaged buildings after an airstrike on Aleppo's rebel held al-Maadi district on July 16, 2016.
Men look for survivors amid rubble of damaged buildings after an airstrike on Aleppo's rebel held al-Maadi district on July 16, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

ALEPPO (AFP) - Opposition-controlled parts of Syria's battered northern city Aleppo are now completely besieged, a monitor and a rebel group said Sunday (July 17), after government forces severed the last route out of the east.

Regime fighters are now on the Castello Road and have fully cut it, said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

"The eastern neighbourhoods are now completely besieged," he told AFP.

The army had advanced on July 7 to within firing range of the key supply route but had not reached the road itself.

"Aleppo is now 100-per-cent besieged," a rebel fighter from the Aleppo Revolutionaries group told AFP.

"The army has reached the road and even arrested a group of civilians who were walking there," the fighter said.

"They are now setting up sandbag barriers," he said.

AFP's correspondent in one eastern rebel-controlled neighbourhood said the distant sound of clashes could be heard.

According to the United Nations, nearly 600,000 people are living under siege in Syria, most of them surrounded by government forces, although rebel groups also use the brutal tactic.

Eastern Aleppo is not yet designated by the UN as besieged.

Aleppo city is divided roughly between government control in the west and rebel control in the east.

It was once Syria's commercial powerhouse but has been ravaged by the country's five-year war, which has left more than 280,000 people dead.