Russian and Syrian military aircraft hit Islamic State group targets near Aleppo, Syria, Wednesday, in an attempt to regain control of a road strategically important to troops belonging to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government, according to a human rights group monitoring the conflict. The attempt to clear the road, which links government territory in northwest, central and western Syria, comes just days before the U.S.-brokered truce is due to come into effect.
The road is reported to be the only access into the ISIS-held town of Aleppo, making it crucial if the Syrian military are to take back the region, according to a report by the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which uses a network of people on the ground to monitor the conflict. During the raids to clear the road, 20 militants from the terror group and four civilians were injured, the report also noted.
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Fighting on the ground in Syria is reported to have intensified since Russia became involved in September, supplying the then-beleaguered Syrian government forces with new weapons and support from the air. While the targeting of ISIS and the Nusra Front terror group will continue, a truce brokered by the U.S. and Russia in Munich last week is expected to end hostilities between all other parties, including between Assad’s government military and Syrian rebels. However, Assad’s government, which is confined to Damascus in the west of the country, has said that the truce could fail if foreign governments continue to fund rebels on the ground.
U.N. spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said to reporters in Geneva Tuesday: "This is a cessation of hostilities that we hope will take force very quickly and hope provide breathing space for intra-Syrian talks to resume.”
Fawzi also said that there were plans to deliver aid to Syrian rebel-held areas that had been blockaded by government troops.