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Syria Army Makes Gains Behind Russian Air Support

Syrian government forces have gained modest ground against rebel forces in the northern Aleppo Province under cover from Russian air strikes.

Syrian troops seized at least five villages and other strategic territory on October 17, bringing them near the southern part of the city of Aleppo, the country's biggest city, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said.

SOHR Director Rami Abdel Rahman said the Syrian forces most recent gains bring them close to securing a key supply route between Aleppo and the central Hama Province.

Government forces control roughly half of Aleppo with insurgents controling the rest of it.

Rahman said despite the gains and the cover of Russian warplanes, insurgent fighters were providing strong resistance.

He said some 17 rebels and eight pro-government fighters had been killed in fighting on October 17, while some 2,000 families had fled the fighting.

Syrian troops have coordinated with Russia to advance in Aleppo, Hama, Homs, and Latakia provinces.

Those areas are largely devoid of Islamic State (IS) forces but are rather where the Al-Qaeda affiliate, the Al-Nusra Front, and other rebel groups are located.

An estimated 250,000 people have been killed since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters