Syrian army claims to have retaken second rebel-held area of Aleppo

The city is divided between the government-held west and rebel-held east

Syrian government forces claim to have retaken control of two key districts in rebel-held eastern Aleppo in as many days, in what would be a major breakthrough in their offensive to retake the entire city.

Regime forces began a renewed bombardment on eastern Aleppo 12 days ago, advancing with a ground and air assault, and took control of Masaken Hanano on Saturday.

The Syrian army said on Sunday it had taken control of a second residential district, Jabal Badro, which is next to Masaken Hanano.

State television said President Bashar al Assad's armed forces, backed by their allies, were progressing "from three axes" and on Saturday it reported they had taken "full control" of the area.

"The armed forces retook full control of Masaken Hanano after having put an end to the presence of terrorists there," the state broadcaster said.

"Engineering teams are removing mines and improvised explosive devices planted by terrorists in the squares and streets."

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said that regime forces were now in complete control of Masaken Hanano and had started an assault on Sakhur and nearby Al Haidariya.

But Yasser al Youssef, from the rebel group Nureddin al Zinki, said some fighting was still under way on the southern edges of Masaken Hanano.

Aleppo, which was Syria's biggest city before the start of the civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, is divided between the government-held west and rebel-held east.

UN officials say at least 250,000 civilians have been trapped under government siege for months in the east, with dwindling food and fuel supplies.

Since 15 November, the resumed bombardment in Aleppo has killed at least 212 civilians, including 27 children, and there have been 134 rebel fighter deaths, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.