Syrian army secures road to Aleppo: state TV

September 9, 2016 7:49 AM EDT

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BEIRUT (Reuters) - The Syrian army secured a road into the government-held side of Aleppo that was captured by rebels last month and was expected to open it soon for civilians, state-owned al-Ikhbariya TV reported on Friday.

The advance by the Syrian army and allied militia in the Ramousah area of southern Aleppo has reopened the main route into the government-held west while resulting in the complete re-encirclement of the city's rebel-held east.

On Friday, rebel shelling of the government-held side of Aleppo's frontline Salah al-Din neighborhood killed at least eight people, including four children, and injured about 30 others, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Aerial bombardment of the rebel-held part of the same district at noon on Friday killed seven people, including children, and wounded some others, the Observatory said.

Insurgent forces including jihadist groups had captured the Ramousah area in August, breaking the siege on eastern Aleppo imposed by government forces in July. The government's loss of the Ramousah road left the people in western Aleppo dependent on a much more dangerous route.

A reporter for Al-Ikhbariya, in a broadcast from the road, said it would be secure for civilian use in the coming few hours.

"The whole road is secure," a soldier told the reporter.

The army backed by militias from Iran, Iraq and Lebanon and the Russian air force are now seeking to press their offensive against the insurgents to the south of Aleppo.

Footage on state television showed engineers fixing fallen electricity lines and civilian cars driving through the countryside along the road into Aleppo through Ramousah.

Television showed large concrete buildings with their facades stripped off from shell or rocket fire and government soldiers walking through the streets carrying their weapons.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov resumed negotiations in Geneva on a Syrian ceasefire plan on Friday, with U.S. officials saying they believed a deal was still possible.

(Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Dominic Evans and Angus MacSwan)

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