Middle East

Syria conflict: Khan al-Assal 'falls to rebels'

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A strategic town close to the northern city of Aleppo has fallen to Syrian rebels, according to UK-based activist group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Khan al-Assal was considered the last regime stronghold in the west of Aleppo province.

The rebel victory comes after several defeats at the hands of Syrian armed forces.

The town lies on a route that links the province to the city of Aleppo.

Fighting in Aleppo itself was reported as continuing as both sides attempted to assert control over the city, which is economically the most important in Syria.

A rebel group calling itself the Ninth Division announced it had captured Khan al-Assal in an online video.

"We the leadership of the Ninth Division announce that the town of Khan al-Assal has been completely liberated," a rebel commander said in a video posted on Youtube.

Khan al-Assal was at the centre of allegations in March that chemical weapons were being used, with both sides blaming the other for an attack that left 30 people dead.

At the time rebels had launched a major offensive to take the town but were driven back, losing some 200 men in an eight-day battle.