World Bulletin / News Desk
Syrian rebels seized the northern town of Khan al-Assal on Monday, activists said, one of the last towns in the western part of Aleppo province that was held by President Bashar al-Assad's forces.
An army build-up around the province in order to retake Aleppo city has been dogged by rebel counter-attacks, although a string of government victories elsewhere in Syria has shifted the battlefield tide in Assad's favour after more than two years of bloodshed.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an anti-Assad monitoring group, said army officers surrendered the town on Monday morning after rebels surrounded a southern district.
Video footage posted on the Internet by rebel groups showed army tanks withdrawing from the town. Another video showed a dead commander who rebels said led the government resistance in the town, which has been besieged for weeks.
Aleppo is part of a crescent of regions in northern Syria that have become a stronghold for rebels fighting to end four decades of rule by the Assad family.
Insurgents have been blockading government-held areas in Aleppo city, Syria's largest urban centre and once its commercial hub. Aleppo has been mired in a bloody stalemate since rebels launched an offensive in the province last year.
Assad's forces have responded to the rebel advance on Khan al-Assal with a string of air raids in the area.