|Syrian government forces advance as rebel infighting rages||
The Syrian government has retaken territory around the northern city of Aleppo, the military said on Tuesday, after two weeks of rebel infighting that has weakened the insurgency against President Bashar Assad.
According to Reuters, an army statement said government forces had pushed out from their base at Aleppo's international airport, southeast of the city, and were moving towards an industrial complex used as a terrorist base and the al-Bab road, urgently needed by insurgents to supply the half of Aleppo under their control.
It said that government forces, along with groups loyal to Assad, were in "complete control" of the Naqareen, Zarzour, Taaneh and Subeihieh areas along the eastern side of Aleppo, which was the major Arab country's commercial hub and most populous city before the conflict erupted in 2011.
Fighting between the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and Levant and rival Islamists and more moderate rebels have killed hundreds of people over two weeks and shaken ISIS, a rebel faction led by foreign terrorists.
The internecine conflict among some within the terrorist groups will allow Assad to portray himself as the only alternative in Syria to a radical Islamists when peace talks begin in Switzerland on Jan. 22.
His military advances will give the Syrian government delegation greater leverage at the negotiating table.
UN feeds record 3.8 million in Syria
Meanwhile, the UN's World Food Program (WFP) delivered rations to a record 3.8 million people in Syria in December, but civilians in eastern provinces and besieged towns near the capital remain out of reach, a spokeswoman said on Tuesday.
The agency voiced concern at reports of malnutrition in besieged areas, especially of children caught up in the nearly three-year-old civil war, and called for greater access, Reuters reported.
"WFP is gravely concerned about people who live in areas under siege. Their nutrition situation is expected to have deteriorated significantly," spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told a news briefing in Geneva.
The organization has tried several times over the last few months to reach besieged areas in and around Damascus - especially Mouadamiya, Nashabiyeh, Douma, Harasta and Yarmouk - without success.
"We are quite concerned about malnutrition of children, especially in those besieged areas," she said.
The United Nations agency, which distributed food supplies to 3.4 million people in November, aims to reach 4.25 million in January, despite winter weather.
In 2013, it brought 100,000 cubic meters of food into Syria. "That is equivalent to 58 jumbo planes," Byrs said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that Syria's government and some rebels may be willing to permit humanitarian aid to flow, enforce local ceasefires and take other confidence-building measures in the civil war.
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