At least 30 civilians were killed in shellfire by Syrian rebel groups advancing in the south-western districts of Aleppo over the last 24 hours, a monitoring group said Tuesday.

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said those killed included 11 children and seven women in the Hamdaniyeh and Ramousseh neighbourhoods.

The two areas are the main target of a rebel offensive aimed at breaking through into opposition-held eastern Aleppo from the south-west after regime forces captured its last remaining supply route last month, placing it under siege.

The heavy shelling, which continued until morning, came as regime forces overnight counter-attacked and won back some positions, the Britain-based Observatory said.

State media said the Syrian air force carried out several strikes on areas controlled by "terrorists", a term used by the regime to describe rebels.

But opposition figures remained upbeat, with Brita Hagi Hassan, the head of the opposition city council, telling dpa via a Facebook message: "If the rebels continue their push into regime areas in south-western Aleppo..., all of Aleppo will be liberated in one week."

Rebels led by the Fatah al-Sham Front, previously known as the al-Nusra Front until it changed its name and ended its formal affiliation with al-Qaeda terrorist organization last week, launched a major offensive on Aleppo's south-western outskirts Sunday evening.

The rebel forces in the area are separated by only a few kilometres of regime territory from besieged eastern Aleppo.

The Observatory said that planes raided by noon several areas in the Sheikh Saeed and al-Sukari districts, killing at least two and wounding several others.

It added that warplanes also struck Atarib in western Aleppo, killing six people and wounding at least 15 others.

The Observatory said that the second stage of the offensive has been dubbed by rebels "Aleppo's anger."

Riad Kahwaji, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, told dpa that the opposition forces have surprised their opponents with the level of resilience they have.

"Despite the fierce offensive by the regime forces supported by Russian air cover and the Iranian-supplied Shiite militias, opposition forces managed to regain the momentum through a surprise counter-offensive from the west and south of Aleppo," Kahwaji said.

He added that the rebels seem to be on the verge of encircling regime forces in some pockets in and around the city.

"Air power can do so little in urban fighting especially if the other side [Russia and the Syrian regime] lacks smart weapons and the Russian airpower is clearly short on effective precision weapons," Kahwaji said.

"I believe the battle of Aleppo is proving way much more difficult than the Iranian-Russian axis had expected; and it will be more costly to them if they keep trying to capture the city," Kahwaji warned.

Both Russia and Iran support Syria's armed forces.

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.