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Syrian army, rebels wage fierce battles north of Aleppo

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government forces had built on the Handarat advance.

Syrian civilians & rescuers gather at the site of government air strikes in the rebel-held area of Al-Shaar in Aleppo. Picture: AFP.

BEIRUT - Syrian government forces and rebels waged fierce battles north of Aleppo on Friday, a week into a Russian-backed offensive by the Syrian army to take the entire city.

Syrian government forces made a significant advance on Thursday north of Aleppo, capturing the Handarat refugee camp, a few kilometres from the city. There were conflicting accounts on the outcome of the fighting.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said government forces had built on the Handarat advance and captured the adjacent Kindi Hospital area on Friday morning, edging closer to the city.

A television station operated by Lebanon's Hezbollah, which is fighting in support of the government, also said the Kindi Hospital area had been captured.

But rebel sources denied that the government had captured the Kindi Hospital area, saying fighting was still going on.

A senior rebel official also said that government forces were shelling the rebel-held districts with artillery from a hilltop to the east of the city.