A number of civilians were killed or wounded in western rural Aleppo as Tahrir al-Sham engaged in heavy shelling as it sought to expand its footprint at the expense of the Syrian Liberation Front, a Syrian activist said.
Tahrir al-Sham launched a full offensive at dawn Tuesday (January 1st) in western rural Aleppo, which is under the control of the Syrian Liberation Front, activist Musab Assaf told Diyaruna.
The extremist alliance had paved the way for its attempts to advance with wide-scale shelling of civilian homes and hospitals that left a large number of casualties in the towns of Darat Azza and Takad, he said.
Among the dead were civilian Bashar Attiyah and nurse Mahmoud Abdul-Ilah Jallo, who were killed by shrapnel during the shelling, he said.
Dr. Abdel-Rahman Hajjo Bakr suffered serious wounds when the hospital in which he worked sustained direct hits during the Tahrir al-Sham shelling.
The Syrian Liberation Front and Tahrir al-Sham "have been exchanging control of the areas, separating them without either side achieving any advance", Assaf said.
Combatants, civilians wounded
Confirmed reports show a number of combatants have been killed or wounded on both sides, Assaf said, in addition to a number of civilians who had been caught in the crossfire.
"Fighting has been fiercest in Jabal al-Sheikh Barakat, which overlooks Darat Azza and is a strategic point on the battlefront known as Point 33," he said.
Battles also have raged at the entrances to the city, particularly the northern entrance, he added, as well as in the vicinity of the town of Takad.
According to Assaf, tensions boiled over on December 28th, when a Tahrir al-Sham patrol tried to take over a security checkpoint belonging to the Syrian Liberation Front, and armed clashes ensued.
Five Tahrir al-Sham elements were killed during this incident, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The extremist alliance then "used this incident as a pretext to launch its current offensive, which is being accompanied by a roundup of civilians and opposition elements who oppose it", Assaf said.