Syria monitor: 74 killed in 8 days of rebel Aleppo offensive

Russia, a staunch ally, has been supporting Syria's fight against the rebels with a campaign of airstrikes as recently as September and October.

Rebels in eastern Aleppo had increased their attacks on western government-held areas of the city on Thursday.

Aleppo, Syria's largest city and once its commercial hub, has become one of the biggest theaters of the civil war, where eastern districts have been controlled by rebels opposed to President Bashar Assad and western areas have been controlled by the government.

The insurgents seized a district on Aleppo's edge and a nearby village.

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The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said neither rebels nor civilians left the city during the ceasefire that was unilaterally observed by both Russian Federation and Syria.

Rights groups and the United Nations have sharply criticized the rebels over the shelling of western Aleppo districts, which has killed a number of civilians.

Abu Saeed al-Halabi, a Dutch member of Fatah al-Sham based in Aleppo, said Russian Federation has intensified its airstrikes during the insurgent-led offensive on Aleppo's western countryside, "the proposed end destination" for the potential evacuees from eastern Aleppo. Such criticism had mainly been focused on the government and its allies, accusing them of indiscriminate shelling and airstrikes on rebel-held areas.

On Saturday, a number of families leaving Aleppo through a "safety corridor" afforded by the Russian and Syrian air forces reportedly came under rebel fire.

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For most of the 10-hour halt in fighting, which was unilaterally announced by Russia, no one had approached the corridors, and webcam video from the Russian Defense Ministry showed no activity.

Syrian officials say they regret that the civilians weren't able to leave but that they remain determined to recapture the rest of the city.

However, the arrival of a Russian aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, into the Mediterranean and its movement towards the Syrian coast suggests Moscow may intend to escalate its operations. But there were reports of air strikes throughout the rebel offensive. "Armed groups were given an opportunity to leave the city without any hindrance, evacuate sick and injured people, as well as release civilians that wanted to leave eastern districts of Aleppo", he added.

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