World Bulletin / News Desk
ISIL fighters advanced Friday on Syria's second city Aleppo despite more than a week of Russian air strikes that Moscow says is aimed at routing the armed group.
The ISIL gains came as regime forces, backed by Russian bombing and fighters from the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah, intensified an offensive against rebels in the northwest, where ISIL is absent.
Western governments say the vast majority of Russian strikes have targeted rebel groups other than ISIL in a bid to defend President Bashar al-Assad's rule.
ISIL fighters reached their closest position yet to Aleppo in northern Syria at dawn on Friday after hours of ferocious fighting with rival opponents of Assad, a monitoring group reported.
"Dozens of combatants were killed on both sides," said Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
ISIL fighters drove out rebels from the localities of Tall Qrah, Tall Soussin, Kafar Qares and the base of Madrasat al-Mushat, he said.
The seizure of these positions brought the fighters to about 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the front line where forces loyal to Assad are positioned, including the Sheikh Najjar industrial zone.
"ISIL has never been so close to the city of Aleppo, and this is its biggest advance towards" the country's pre-war commercial capital, said Abdel Rahman, whose Britain-based group relies on a network of sources on the ground across Syria.Last Mod: 09 Ekim 2015, 13:03