At least 70 killed in northern Aleppo clashes
ALEPPO - At least 70 regime and rebel fighters have been killed in 24 hours in a government assault and a jihadist-led counterattack in northern Syria, a monitor said Thursday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 30 regime soldiers and 39 rebel fighters had been killed in battles around Al-Maleh, north of Aleppo, since Wednesday afternoon.
Jihadists fighting for the Al-Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda, were also killed, said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman, who did not provide a precise number.
The government of President Bashar al-Assad has been attempting to seize Al-Maleh for more than two years.
His forces have been trying for months to surround Aleppo by cutting supply lines between rebel-held districts of the city and nearby Turkey, which supports opposition forces.
For nearly a week, regime troops backed by Syrian and Russian warplanes have been battling for control of Al-Maleh.
Assad's regime is also attempting to cut the Castello Road, a key supply route from the Turkish border to rebel-held eastern suburbs of Aleppo.
The pro-regime website Al-Masdar News reported that the Syrian army withdrew from the farms of Al-Maleh as they faced a rebel counter-offensive led by the Al-Nusra Front.
It said rebels attacked government forces with two suicide car bombs.
The majority of Aleppo province is controlled by Al-Nusra and its Islamist allies, while the city, the country's pre-war commercial capital, has been divided since July 2012 into rebel-held and regime-held areas.
The conflict in Syria, which has lasted five years, has killed more than 280,000 people.