BEIRUT - The Syrian government has retaken territory around the northern city of Aleppo, the military said on Tuesday, after two weeks of rebel infighting that has weakened the insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad.
The internecine conflict among various rebel groups will allow Assad to portray himself as the only secular alternative in Syria to a radical Islamist regime when peace talks begin in Switzerland on Jan 22.
His military advances will give the Syrian government delegation greater leverage at the negotiating table.
An army statement said government forces had pushed out from their base at Aleppo's international airport, southeast of the city, and were moving towards an industrial complex used as a rebel base and the al-Bab road, needed by insurgents to supply the half of Aleppo under their control.
It said that government forces, along with militia loyal to Assad, were in "complete control" of the Naqareen, Zarzour, Taaneh and Subeihieh areas along the eastern side of Aleppo, which was the major Arab country's commercial hub and most populous city before the conflict erupted in 2011.