Syrian troops recapture road to Aleppo from Islamic State

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The Syrian government Wednesday said it had recaptured the only road linking Aleppo to central Syria, after an attack by Islamic State jihadists left government-held areas of the northern city cut off from the rest of the country for 12 days.

State news agency SANA reported that the road would reopen to civilian traffic from Thursday morning.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government forces were fighting Islamic State jihadists 10 kilometres east of the Khanasir road in an attempt to ensure it was fully secure.

The road is the only link to the government-controlled western half of Aleppo, as the main highway north from the central cities of Hama and Homs is controlled by rebels.

Islamic State launched a major assault on the route 12 days ago in an apparent response to gains by government forces trying to relieve hundreds of troops who are besieged at the Kuweires air base, which is east of Aleppo and surrounded by territory controlled by the jihadists.

Control of the city of Aleppo, Syria’s largest before the war, is divided between the government in the west and non Islamic State rebels in the east. Islamic State controls the countryside north-east of the city.

In 2013 Syrian troops opened the Khanasir road through desert territory east of the country’s main north-south highway, allowing them to resume land supplies to western Aleppo.

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