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The Latest: Syria says 98 percent of east Aleppo retaken

  • FILE - In this April 14, 2016 file photo, a Syrian man carries a carpet as he walks through a devastated part of the town of Palmyra as families load their belongings onto a bus in the central Homs province, Syria. Palmyra, the archaeological gem that Islamic State fighters retook Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016, from Syrian troops is a desert oasis surrounded by palm trees, and a UNESCO world heritage site, that boasts 2,000-year-old towering Roman-era colonnades and priceless artifacts. It is also a strategic crossroads linking the Syrian capital, Damascus, with the country's east and neighboring Iraq. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)

    FILE - In this April 14, 2016 file photo, a Syrian man carries a carpet as he walks through a devastated part of the town of Palmyra as families load their belongings onto a bus in the central Homs province, Syria. Palmyra, the archaeological gem that Islamic State fighters retook Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016, from Syrian troops is a desert oasis surrounded by palm trees, and a UNESCO world heritage site, that boasts 2,000-year-old towering Roman-era colonnades and priceless artifacts. It is also a strategic crossroads linking the Syrian capital, Damascus, with the country's east and neighboring Iraq. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • This image posted online on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016, by the Aamaq News Agency, a media arm of the Islamic State group, purports to show a general view of the ancient ruins of the city of Palmyra, in Homs province, Syria, with the Citadel of Palmyra in the background. (Militant video via AP)

    This image posted online on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016, by the Aamaq News Agency, a media arm of the Islamic State group, purports to show a general view of the ancient ruins of the city of Palmyra, in Homs province, Syria, with the Citadel of Palmyra in the background. (Militant video via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Monday, Dec. 5, 2016 photo, Syrian army soldiers fire their weapons during a battle with insurgents at the Ramouseh front line, east of Aleppo, Syria. The Syrian military said on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, that it had gained control of 98 percent of eastern Aleppo, previously a rebel-held enclave, leaving only a small sliver of territory in the city packed with rebels and civilians who are being squeezed under fire. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

    In this Monday, Dec. 5, 2016 photo, Syrian army soldiers fire their weapons during a battle with insurgents at the Ramouseh front line, east of Aleppo, Syria. The Syrian military said on Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, that it had gained control of 98 percent of eastern Aleppo, previously a rebel-held enclave, leaving only a small sliver of territory in the city packed with rebels and civilians who are being squeezed under fire. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)  (The Associated Press)

The Latest on the Syrian conflict (all times local):

12:30 p.m.

Syria's military says it has gained control of 98 percent of eastern Aleppo, leaving only a tiny enclave packed with rebels and civilians.

The military statement Monday said pro-government forces have seized control of al-Fardous, one of the largest neighborhoods in eastern Aleppo, which has been held by the rebels since 2012.

Rami Abdurrahman, the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition-run monitoring group, said the fighting is ongoing in the district.

Syrian troops backed by Russian airstrikes and militias from across the region launched a wide-scale offensive on eastern Aleppo earlier this month and are on the verge of driving the rebels from the city. Doing so would hand President Bashar Assad his greatest victory yet in the 5 ½-year civil war.

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10 a.m.

Syria's state media and an opposition monitoring group say the government troops and allied militias have seized a wide strip on the southern edge Aleppo from rebels, closing in on tens of thousands of civilians squeezed into the center of the city.

State TV says the Syrian forces fully secured Sheik Saeed neighborhood — an area interspersed with agricultural fields along the southern stretch of the rebel enclave — on Monday, after days of intense clashes.

The Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights estimates the fall of Sheik Saeed leaves rebels enclosed in a small area in central Aleppo that's only 10 percent of what rebels used to control.

Tens of thousands of civilians are believed to be still trapped in that area, accessible only through government-monitored crossing points.