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Rebels in Aleppo stretched thin between regime, IS

Rebel supply lines to the city of Aleppo are at risk of being cut as the rebels simultaneously fight government forces and the Islamic State in Aleppo’s northern countryside.
Rebel fighters take positions during clashes with forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad around Handarat area October 12, 2014. REUTERS/Hosam Katan  (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT) - RTR49VUO
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ALEPPO, Syria — At times in Aleppo's rebel-controlled Shaar neighborhood, one could forget that a war has been raging across the country for nearly four years, were it not for the destruction and burned-out buildings as a result of bombing. Swings are filled with children, and their laughter rings through the neighborhood. On the outskirts of Aleppo, however, at the city's northern entrance leading to the so-called liberated neighborhoods, the scene is completely different. Successive reinforcements for the various rebel formations are arriving amid the sound of explosions and assorted battles after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime forces suddenly attacked Oct. 3, the first day of Eid al-Adha, and gained control of strategically important areas.

The regime began the surprise attack at 7 a.m. on the Handarat region, north of Aleppo, taking the village of Handarat and the town of Saifat, reaching the areas of Bashkawi and al-Millah. In doing so, the Handarat-Aleppo road — the most important road in terms of military supplies for rebels, stretching from the countryside of northern Aleppo to the city — was cut. The only remaining route connecting the countryside to the city is the Castillo road, which itself is no more than 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) from the front. If the regime cuts that road or gains control of it, rebel supply lines to the city of Aleppo will be completely severed, and the rebel-held neighborhoods besieged.

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