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