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                                        Volume. 11956
Syrian army regains full control of Rankous
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c_330_235_16777215_0___images_stories_edim_01_Syria99(38).jpgThe Syrian army regained full control of Rankous in the Qalamoun region, Al-Manar television and Syrian state news agency reported Wednesday.
 
Government forces continued to hunt down remnants of terrorist groups on the outskirts of the area known as the Northern Neighborhood and surrounding mountains after killing scores of them in town, SANA said.
 
“Army units and armed forces completed their operations in the town of Rankous in Damascus province and restored security and stability to the town after killing a large number of terrorists,” the agency said.
 
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an anti-government Britain-based monitoring group, had earlier confirmed that fierce fighting was taking place in the area between Nusra Front along with Islamist brigades and the Lebanese Hezbollah fighters backed by the government and the National Defense forces.
 
The announcement came a day after the army surrounded and shelled the town, one of the last remaining rebel strongholds, in preparation for the operation.
 
Foreign-backed opposition groups fighting the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad have also confirmed the town’s liberation.
Rankous is situated about 45 kilometers (28 miles) to the north of the capital, Damascus.
 
The Qalamoun region is of strategic importance as it lies along the border with neighboring Lebanon. The main highway between Damascus and the city of Homs also runs through the region.
 

Rare aid enters Aleppo
 
Meanwhile, Syria's Red Crescent and the UN refugee agency have delivered aid to rebel-held areas of Aleppo city for the first time in 10 months, the Red Crescent said Wednesday.
 
"Yesterday at noon we and a UNHCR team were able to bring in aid from the Jisr al-Haj crossing," Red Crescent operations chief Khaled Erksoussi told AFP.
 
The crossing lies between the government-held west of Aleppo and eastern parts of the city that rebels control.
 
"The operation took place after the implementation of a ceasefire between all the parties that was respected during the mission," said Erksoussi.
 
It was the first time aid had been brought in via the Jisr al-Haj crossing, with a delivery in June last year entering from the northeast of the city instead.
 
The goods, including food, blankets and health kits, were taken into the eastern neighborhoods on carts pulled by workers because the crossing was too small to accommodate vehicles, said Erksoussi.
 
The items would be stored in warehouses in the eastern part of the city and distributed in stages.
 
The UN refugee agency called the mission a "rare and risky operation," adding its staff had observed a "dire humanitarian situation inside eastern Aleppo".
 
It described "an acute shortage of food, water, medicine and basic supplies".
 
"UNHCR last accessed the area in June, 2013 and no humanitarian aid has reached the population there since then," it added.
 
It said the aid had been delivered to the crossing in two trucks and then transported by 75 workers pulling carts "back and forth one and a half kilometers each way... in 270 trips."
 
Aleppo has been effectively divided into government control in the west and rebel control in the east since shortly after fighting began there in the middle of 2012.
 
The government has made some advances on the outskirts of the eastern side of the city in a campaign that has included serial air raids including with the use of explosive-packed barrel bombs.
 
Syria has been witnessing violence since March 2011. Reports indicate that Western powers and their regional allies -- especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey -- are supporting the militants operating inside Syria. 

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