Contested Gateway: Government helicopters dropped explosive barrels on the village of al-Safira outside Aleppo on Tuesday killing at least 15 people, including women and children. Al-Safira has supplied the armed opposition with fighters who have managed to halt the Syrian Army’s three-month effort to open the desert highway leading from Aleppo south to Hama.
Al-Safira is the terminus of the strategically located Khanasir–Aleppo desert road, an alternatative to the main highway to Aleppo which is currently held by rebels. The town sits adjacent to a major state-owned armaments factory that has been used by government troops to bombard adjacent rebel-held areas in the southeast of Syria’s largest city.
The pro-rebel Al-Safira News Center reports that residents have fled their homes and are living in encampments on the outskirts of the suburb as the built-up areas have been destroyed by 15 days of bombardment. Despite the destruction of nearly 500 homes and local businesses, activists claim that “al-Safira is steadfast and under rebel control.”
On Tuesday Syrian state paper Tishreen reported that journalists working for pro-regime media outlets were attacked on the Khanasir–Aleppo highway, resulting in injures to a reporter for the Lebanese pro-Syrian regime al-Mayadin television channel.