Syrian pro-government forces pushed deeper into rebel-held eastern Aleppo, forcing civilians to flee as the regime pressed an assault to recapture the entire city.
Recapturing east Aleppo would be the government’s biggest victory yet in Syria’s five-year conflict and deal a potentially decisive blow to the opposition.
The city was once the country’s economic powerhouse, but it has been ravaged by the war that has killed 3,00,000 people since it began with anti-government protests in March 2011.
Military aircraft dropped leaflets over east Aleppo, urging rebels to distribute food to civilians, leave the area and allow residents to do so too.
Government forces pounded the area with air strikes and barrel bombs as ground troops advanced in the key eastern district of Masaken Hanano, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
A week into the latest round of fighting for the city, the regime controls around a third of the district, the Observatory said.
The area has been shelled heavily during the war, and many residents had already fled, but the latest fighting prompted even the last holdouts to leave.