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Siege of eastern Aleppo resumes as Syrian government re-takes army site

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian government forces and their allies recaptured areas in southwestern Aleppo on Sunday that rebels had seized last month and laid siege to the city’s opposition-held eastern sector for a second time since July, rebels and monitors said.

The areas recaptured, after weeks of bombardment and attempts to drive the insurgents back, included the government’s Ramousah military complex on the city’s southwestern outskirts.

Rebels captured the complex last month in an assault that broke through the first government siege of eastern Aleppo.

Zakaria Malahifji of the Fastaqim rebel group confirmed reports that the complex had been retaken by government forces. That place eastern Aleppo under siege, he said.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and a Damascus military source confirmed east Aleppo had been cut off.

President Bashar al-Assad, who is backed by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, wants to recapture all of Aleppo, Syria’s biggest city before the five-year-old conflict.

Moscow’s intervention last year turned the war in Assad’s favour in many areas, but rebels have made some gains, including in Aleppo and in Hama province, further south.

Insurgents have launched a campaign to try and capture the town of Maan, north of the city of Hama, the provincial capital, according to Mohammed Rasheed, a spokesman for rebel group Jaish al-Nasr.

Advances by the insurgents in recent days have brought them to within 10 km (six miles) of government-controlled Hama.

Reporting by John Davison; Editing by Larry King