BEIRUT, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Battles in and around the Syrian city of Aleppo have killed at least 70 pro-government fighters and more than 80 insurgents after the army started an offensive there, a monitoring group said on Wednesday.
Aleppo is at the forefront of clashes between government forces and a range of insurgents, including Islamist brigades, al Qaeda's Syria wing Nusra Front and Western-backed units. The United Nations is seeking a ceasefire there to allow urgent aid access.
The Syrian army, backed by allied militia, had captured areas north of Aleppo on Tuesday in what the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said was an attempt to cut off insurgent supply lines. Battles also rages inside several districts of the city.
The Observatory's Rami Abdulrahman said casualties on the government side could be higher because 25 of its combatants were unaccounted for. Sixty-six Syrian insurgents from various groups were killed in the fighting, as well as at least 20 from Nusra Front, he said.
On Tuesday the United Nations Syria envoy said the government was willing to suspend its aerial bombardment and artillery shelling of Aleppo for six weeks so that a local ceasefire plan could be tested.
The army has been trying to close a major insurgent supply route leading north from Aleppo towards the Turkey border, according to the Observatory. Fighting on Tuesday had blocked the road. (Reporting by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Dominic Evans)
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