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The Latest: Syria military gains ground in Aleppo's Old City

In this picture taken Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, smoke rises in a east Aleppo neighborhood during a battle between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad and rebels in Aleppo, Syria. A Syrian war monitoring group says government forces have captured large parts of Aleppo's central-eastern al-Shaar neighborhood from rebels. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says government forces took most of the once-populous neighborhood Tuesday following intense clashes. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

In this picture taken Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, smoke rises in a east Aleppo neighborhood during a battle between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad and rebels in Aleppo, Syria. A Syrian war monitoring group says government forces have captured large parts of Aleppo's central-eastern al-Shaar neighborhood from rebels. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says government forces took most of the once-populous neighborhood Tuesday following intense clashes. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)  (The Associated Press)

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

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.