Syrian rebels in Aleppo propose 5-day cease-fire

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the conflict in Syria (all times local):

1:05 p.m.

Syrian rebel factions are proposing a five-day cease-fire for the medical and civilian evacuation from the eastern part of the city of Aleppo.

The rebel proposal on Wednesday comes as Syrian government and allied forces have gained control of three-quarters of the enclave that the rebels had controlled since 2012.

The ground offensive was preceded by an intensive bombing campaign that knocked out medical facilities and left the civilian population in eastern Aleppo reeling from the onslaught.

The proposal calls for the immediate evacuation of 500 seriously wounded Aleppo residents and for allowing civilians wishing to leave to head to northern rural Aleppo province, where there is almost no government presence.

Capt. Abdel-Salam Abdel-Razek of the rebel Nour el-Din el-Zinki faction says the future of the city of Aleppo is to be negotiated during this humanitarian pause, which the rebels want the United Nations to monitor.

There was no immediate response from Damascus on the rebel proposal.

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12:45 p.m.

The Syrian government says Israel has launched several surface-to-surface missiles that hit near a military airport west of Damascus, triggering a fire.

The official news agency SANA says the missiles were launched early on Wednesday from inside the “occupied territories” and fell within the perimeter of the Mezzeh military airport on the western edge of the capital. It added that no injuries were report.

It was the second such Israeli strike into Syria recently, according to the Syrian government.

Last week, SANA said Israeli jets fired two missiles from Lebanese airspace toward the outskirts of Damascus, in the Sabboura area.

The Israeli military declined to comment on that incident, and there was no immediate comment on Wednesday’s attack.

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10:10 a.m.

Syria’s state media and an opposition monitoring group say that Syrian troops and their allies have captured more ground in Aleppo’s Old City, gaining a new hold in the heart of the divided city.

The state SANA news agency says that the Syrian forces in the early hours of Wednesday morning established control over two districts north of the ancient Citadel in the heart of the city — the Aghiour and Bab al-Hadid neighborhoods.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the new gains have choked the rebels, forcing them to pull back to other parts of the Old City.

There was no immediate opposition comment on the loss, which widens government control over the enclave that has been in rebel hands since 2012. On Tuesday before the new gains, Syria’s military said it controlled 73 percent of eastern Aleppo, the rebel enclave.

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10:05 a.m.

The Russian defense ministry says a Russian colonel who worked as a military adviser in the government-controlled part of the Syrian city of Aleppo has died in rebel shelling.

The fatality marks Russia’s third casualty this week, after two nurses were killed in a rocket attack on a makeshift Russian military hospital in Aleppo.

The ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that Col. Ruslan Galitsky was wounded in rebel shelling of a government-controlled neighborhood several days earlier and has died of wounds.

The Syrian government and its ally Russia have rejected a cease-fire for the war-torn city, keeping up the military offensive amid rebel retreats and massive displacement of Aleppo civilians.

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