Syria fighting near Aleppo kills dozens, according to monitoring group
Syrian army source denied Khan Touman had fallen to rebels
Rebels seized a village from government forces near Aleppo overnight, a monitoring group and rebel sources said on Friday, gaining important ground near the Syrian city where the United States and Russia are trying to de-escalate the war.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 73 people had been killed in the battle for Khan Touman, some 15 kilometres southwest of Aleppo in a location near the Damascus-Aleppo highway. While multiple rebel sources said it had been captured, a Syrian army source denied Khan Touman had fallen.
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Aleppo-area opposition media activist Bahaa al-Halaby says the insurgents took control of Khan Touman around 7 a.m.
The attack was launched by an alliance of Islamist insurgents known as Jaish al-Fatah, including the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, which has rejected diplomatic efforts to halt the war and promote peace talks.
The United States and Russia this week brokered a ceasefire in the city of Aleppo itself, where some 300 people have been killed in the last two weeks in government- and rebel-held areas as a result of air strikes and shelling.
"Throughout the night the battles were very intense," said Abu al-Baraa al-Hamawi, a fighter from the Ajnad al-Sham group, one of the factions taking part in the attack. "Areas south of Khan Touman have been liberated," he told Reuters.
The monitoring group said that at least 43 insurgents and 30 pro-government fighters died in the battle for Khan Touman.
With files from The Associated Press