Beirut – A monitor group said Syrian government forces and their allied militias on Tuesday took control of the strategic rebel-held Aleppo-Damascus highway, called M5, for the first time since 2012.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government forces managed to take control of al-Rashideen neighbourhood on the outskirts of Aleppo city, thus enabling them to control the whole highway.
The M5 highway connects Damascus with Aleppo and constitutes the main artery for government forces.
The Syrian troops backed by their Russian allies started a military operation to gain complete control of the highway on Jan. 24.
The war monitor said that since January the government forces and their allies have managed to take over 160 areas in Idlib and the countryside of Aleppo, which were under rebel control.
The government’s advances are taking place despite a ceasefire agreed by Turkey and Russia in January.
Moscow is an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Ankara supports some rebel groups.