Assad says Aleppo to serve as springboard for liberation

Syrian President Bashar Assad says victory in Aleppo would provide his army a springboard from which to liberate other areas of the country from "terrorists."

In an interview with the Russian media outlet Komsomolskaya Pravda released Thursday, Assad said Aleppo was effectively no longer Syria's industrial capital but taking back the city would provide important political and strategic gains for his regime.

Syrian government forces have encircled the eastern half of Aleppo, besieging over a quarter of a million people who they say are being used as human shields by "terrorists." The siege has caused an international outcry with a number of countries and groups accusing Syria and Russia of war crimes in connections with attacks on medical facilities and aid convoys.