Rebel fighters carry their weapons as they walk near the front line in Ratain village, north of Aleppo February 17, 2015. REUTERS/Hosam Katan
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Syrian government troops began a new offensive around Aleppo on Tuesday, seeking to encircle rebels in the northern city and break the siege on two pro-regime villages.A Syrian military source said government troops had seized two villages north of Aleppo and were engaged in fierce fighting for control of a third.The offensive in northern Aleppo province was accompanied by renewed fighting inside Aleppo city, which is divided between rebel and regime control.It said 45 rebels were killed in Aleppo province and city, as were 50 soldiers and other regime forces.Once Syria's industrial powerhouse, Aleppo has been split between rebel control in the east and regime control in the west since shortly after fighting began there in mid-2012 .On Monday, the Observatory reported an influx of regime reinforcement and the Syrian daily Al-Watan, which is close to the government, said regime forces planned to encircle the city in a new offensive.
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