The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said early Wednesday that rebel forces fighting to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had been driven from Aleppo's Old City and that Assad's forces now control all parts of the quarter. The Syrian army, with help from Russian and allied militias from Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon, have been mounting a push to drive the rebels from the eastern part of the city, and after two weeks, they now control about 75 percent of eastern Aleppo. A rebel official in Turkey told Reuters that government troops control some but not all of the Old City.
If Assad's forces drive the rebels out of Aleppo, once Syria's commercial hub, it will mark a turning point in the civil war. Food supplies are depleted and all hospitals destroyed by months of heavy bombardment in eastern Aleppo, and tens of thousands of civilians are trapped in the besieged rebel-held areas. The rebels on Wednesday proposed a five-day cease-fire to evacuate civilians and 500 critically injured people.