March 2, 2013 - 09:47 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces seized a village southeast of the city of Aleppo on Friday, March 1, reopening a supply line to the country's biggest city where they have been battling rebels for eight months, a monitoring group said, according to Reuters.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the capture of Tel Shghaib marked the last step to creating a land supply route north into Aleppo from Hama province, crucial for Assad's forces who have lost control of part of the main north-south highway.
Rebels say they hold most of the city itself and nearly all the rural hinterland. But they have been unable to achieve a decisive victory and complain that they are outgunned and vulnerable to Assad's air force, artillery and ballistic missiles
The United States pledged direct but non-lethal aid to the rebels at a meeting in Rome on Thursday, disappointing Assad's opponents who had hoped for more tangible military support to tip the balance of forces on the ground.
The revolt against Assad, which erupted in March 2011 with mainly peaceful protests, has escalated into civil war between mainly Sunni Muslim forces and troops and militias loyal to Assad, from the minority Alawite community whose faith derives from Shi'ite Islam.
The United Nations says 70,000 people have been killed, nearly a million have fled the country and millions more have been displaced or need aid.