SYRIA CONFLICT aleppo, , Syria, 23 July 2016..jpg
Syrian soldiers man positions during clashes against armed groups in the area around Aleppo
Photograph: EPA/STR

Syrian regime forces on Friday attacked the opposition-held section of the northern city of Aleppo despite an announcement by Damascus and allied Russia of starting a humanitarian operation for people besieged there, a monitoring group and activists said.

On Thursday, the Syrian government said it had opened three humanitarian corridors in Aleppo to help civilians leave the rebel-held neighbourhoods in eastern Aleppo on which regime forces are imposing a tight siege after they blocked all supply routes into them earlier this week.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that only 12 people have since left the city's beleaguered areas through one humanitarian passageway before rebel groups set up checkpoints and prevented people from approaching the departure corridors. 

The Observatory's head Rami Abdel-Rahman told dpa that regime aircraft and artillery struck rebel-held districts overnight. He did not give casualty figures.

Entrances to the humanitarian corridors from the opposition-controlled areas were on Friday effectively shut, according to Abdel-Rahman.

"The other end of the passages in regime-held areas are still open although people are not going there."

Activists inside rebel-held districts said inhabitants are hesitant about leaving because they are afraid to be arrested by regime forces after crossing the humanitarian routes.

An estimated 250,000 to 300,000 civilians are thought to remain in Aleppo's opposition-held sector.

Once Syria's commercial hub, Aleppo has been divided between government forces in the west and rebels in the east since fighting erupted for control of the city in mid-2012. 

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