The Syrian army said it had taken control of an important district in rebel-held eastern Aleppo on Saturday after fierce fighting, with rebels blaming intense air strikes and lack of hospitals for their collapsing frontline.

Government forces advanced with a ground and air assault on the edge of the besieged eastern half of the city into the Hanano housing area, a move designed to split the rebel-held east in two.

The army said in a statement it had, alongside its allies, taken full control over the Hanano housing district, which is on the northeast frontline of the eastern sector.

“Engineering teams are removing mines and improvised explosive devices planted by terrorists in the squares and streets,” the statement said.

The Syrian government calls all forces fighting against it “terrorists”.

An official in an Aleppo rebel group said a map circulated by pro-government media showing government forces in control of the Hanano area was largely accurate.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the army had established control over Hanano, which was the first part of Aleppo taken over by armed opposition groups in 2012.

A renewed air assault on residential and frontline parts of east Aleppo began last Tuesday after a weeks-long pause in air strikes and shelling there.

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