Exclusive: Syrian army, allies preparing attack in Aleppo area - sources

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The Syrian army and allied Iranian and Hezbollah forces are preparing for a ground offensive against insurgents in the Aleppo area backed by Russian air strikes, two senior regional officials familiar with the plans said on Tuesday.

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The offensive would expand on a ground attack launched by the same alliance last week that is targeting rebels in Hama province further west. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said thousands of Iranian troops had arrived to take part in the ground offensives in support of President Bashar al-Assad.

A big government offensive in the area near the Turkish border is likely to further anger NATO member Ankara, which has backed insurgents fighting Assad and has already expressed deep concern over Russian air strikes that have targeted them.

See related images of Russian airstrikes in Syria:

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Russian airstrikes in Syria, Putin
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Exclusive: Syrian army, allies preparing attack in Aleppo area - sources
This photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, shows a target hit during a Russian air raid in Syria. Russia has been carrying out airstrikes on Islamic State fighters in Syria since the end of September at the request of President Bashar Assad, Russia's long-term ally. (AP Photo/ Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)
ALEPPO, SYRIA - NOVEMBER 03: A Syrian man runs past the rubble of a building destroyed in the Russian airstrikes on the opposition-controlled Mashhad neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria on November 03, 2015. (Photo by Beha el Halebi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ALEPPO, SYRIA - NOVEMBER 03: Syrians search for survivors in the rubble of buildings following the Russian airstrikes on the opposition-controlled Mashhad neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria on November 03, 2015. (Photo by Ibrahim Ebu Leys/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ALEPPO, SYRIA - NOVEMBER 03: Syrians evacuate people from damaged buildings following the Russian airstrikes on the opposition-controlled Mashhad neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria on November 03, 2015. (Photo by Ibrahim Ebu Leys/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ALEPPO, SYRIA - NOVEMBER 03: Syrians evacuate people from damaged buildings following the Russian airstrikes on the opposition-controlled Mashhad neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria on November 03, 2015. (Photo by Ibrahim Ebu Leys/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ALEPPO, SYRIA - OCTOBER 17: Smoke rises from an opposition-controlled residential area in Aleppo, Syria following the Russian airstrikes on October 17, 2015. (Photo by Beha El-Halebi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Friday, Oct. 2, 2015 a bomb explosion is seen in Syria. Pentagon officials urged the Russian military on Thursday to focus its airstrikes in Syria on Islamic State fighters rather than opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad, U.S. administration officials said. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, a Russian navy ship launches cruise missileS in the Caspian Sea. Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said four Russian navy ships in the Caspian launched 26 cruise missiles at Islamic State targets in Syria.(Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, a Russian navy ship launches a cruise missile in the Caspian Sea. Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said four Russian navy ships in the Caspian launched 26 cruise missiles at Islamic State targets in Syria.(Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, a Russian navy ship launches a cruise missile in the Caspian Sea. Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said four Russian navy ships in the Caspian launched 26 cruise missiles at Islamic State targets in Syria.(Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, a Russian navy ship launches a cruise missile in the Caspian Sea. Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said four Russian navy ships in the Caspian launched 26 cruise missiles at Islamic State targets in Syria.(Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, a Russian navy ship launches a cruise missile in the Caspian Sea. Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said four Russian navy ships in the Caspian launched 26 cruise missiles at Islamic State targets in Syria. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
In this image made from video provided by Homs Media Centre, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, smoke rises after airstrikes by military jets in Talbiseh of the Homs province, western Syria, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015. Russian military jets carried out airstrikes in Syria for the first time on Wednesday, targeting what Moscow said were Islamic State positions. U.S. officials and others cast doubt on that claim, saying the Russians appeared to be attacking opposition groups fighting Syrian government forces. (Homs Media Centre via AP)
This image taken in Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015 posted on the Twitter account of Syria Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, a volunteer search and rescue group, shows the aftermath of an airstrike in Talbiseh, Syria. Russia on Wednesday carried out its first airstrikes in Syria in what President Vladimir Putin called a pre-emptive strike against the militants. Khaled Khoja, head of the Syrian National Council opposition group, said at the U.N. that Russian airstrikes in four areas, including Talbiseh, killed dozens of civilians, with children among the dead. (Syria Civil Defence via AP)
In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015 a bomb explosion is seen in Syria. Reacting to criticism that it is targeting opponents of the Syrian government, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted on Thursday that Russia's airstrikes in Syria are targeting not only Islamic State militants but also other groups. (AP Photo/ Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)
In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015 a bomb explosion is seen in Syria. Reacting to criticism that it is targeting opponents of the Syrian government, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted on Thursday that Russia's airstrikes in Syria are targeting not only Islamic State militants but also other groups. (AP Photo/ Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)
In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015 a bomb explosion is seen in Syria. Reacting to criticism that it is targeting opponents of the Syrian government, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted on Thursday that Russia's airstrikes in Syria are targeting not only Islamic State militants but also other groups. (AP Photo/ Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)
This image taken in Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015 posted on the Twitter account of Syria Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, a volunteer search and rescue group, shows the aftermath of an airstrike in Talbiseh, Syria. Russia on Wednesday carried out its first airstrikes in Syria in what President Vladimir Putin called a pre-emptive strike against the militants. Khaled Khoja, head of the Syrian National Council opposition group, said at the U.N. that Russian airstrikes in four areas, including Talbiseh, killed dozens of civilians, with children among the dead. (Syria Civil Defence via AP)
This image taken in Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015 posted on the Twitter account of Syria Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, a volunteer search and rescue group, shows the aftermath of an airstrike in Talbiseh, Syria. Russia on Wednesday carried out its first airstrikes in Syria in what President Vladimir Putin called a pre-emptive strike against the militants. Khaled Khoja, head of the Syrian National Council opposition group, said at the U.N. that Russian airstrikes in four areas, including Talbiseh, killed dozens of civilians, with children among the dead. (Syria Civil Defence via AP)
In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015 a bomb explosion is seen in Syria. Reacting to criticism that it is targeting opponents of the Syrian government, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted on Thursday that Russia's airstrikes in Syria are targeting not only Islamic State militants but also other groups. (AP Photo/ Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)
In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015 a bomb explosion is seen in Syria. Reacting to criticism that it is targeting opponents of the Syrian government, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted on Thursday that Russia's airstrikes in Syria are targeting not only Islamic State militants but also other groups. (AP Photo/ Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)
In this photo made from footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official website on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, a bomb explosion is seen in Syria. Reacting to criticism that it is targeting opponents of the Syrian government, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted on Thursday that Russia's airstrikes in Syria are targeting not only Islamic State militants but also other groups. (AP Photo/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)
In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015 a bomb explosion is seen in Syria. Reacting to criticism that it is targeting opponents of the Syrian government, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted on Thursday that Russia's airstrikes in Syria are targeting not only Islamic State militants but also other groups. (AP Photo/ Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 30: Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a speech during a weekly meeting with ministers of the Russian Government in Novo-Ogaryovo State Residence September 30, 2015 outside Moscow, Russia. Vladimir Putin has received permission from Parliament for Russian military forces to launch airstrikes in Syria, two days after the Russian leader spoke to the UN and called for an international coalition against terrorism to fight Islamic State (ISIS). (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, rear center, holds a meeting with senior government officials at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015. Russian military jets carried out airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Syria on Wednesday for the first time, after President Vladimir Putin received parliamentary approval to send Russian troops to Syria. (Alexei Nikolsky/RIA Novosti, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
MOSCOW, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 30: Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives to a weekly meeting with ministers of the Russian Government in Novo-Ogaryovo State Residence September 30, 2015 outside Moscow, Russia. Vladimir Putin has received permission from Parliament for Russian military forces to launch airstrikes in Syria, two days after the Russian leader spoke to the UN and called for an international coalition against terrorism to fight Islamic State (ISIS). (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)
A picture taken on September 30, 2015 shows damaged buildings and a minaret in the central Syrian town of Talbisseh in the Homs province. Russian warplanes carried out air strikes in three Syrian provinces, including Homs, along with regime aircraft on September 30, according to a Syrian security source. Earlier in the day, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, reported at least 27 civilians had been killed in air strikes in the Homs province, adding that the strikes hit Rastan, Talbisseh and Zaafarani. The other Syrian security source said the Russian strikes had hit Rastan and Talbisseh in the province of Homs. AFP PHOTO / MAHMOUD TAHA (Photo credit should read MAHMOUD TAHA/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on September 30, 2015 shows a general view of deserted streets and damaged buildings in the central Syrian town of Talbisseh in the Homs province. Russia confirmed on Septemer 30 that it carried out its first airstrike in Syria, near the city of Homs, marking the formal start of Moscow's military intervention in the 4.5-year-old conflict. AFP PHOTO / MAHMOUD TAHA (Photo credit should read MAHMOUD TAHA/AFP/Getty Images)
IDLIB, SYRIA - OCTOBER 01: A damaged vehicle is seen at the site of the alleged Russian airstrikes targeting the training camp of Suqour al-Jabal Brigades in Kafr Nabl town of Idlib, Syria on October 01, 2015. (Photo by Firas Khalife/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
IDLIB, SYRIA - OCTOBER 01: The training camp of Suqour al-Jabal Brigades is destroyed in the alleged Russian airstrikes in Kafr Nabl town of Idlib, Syria on October 01, 2015. (Photo by Firas Khalife/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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Control of Aleppo city and the surrounding province is divided among the Syrian government, a range of insurgent groups fighting Assad, and the Islamic State group that controls some rural areas near the city.

"The big battle preparations in that area are clear," said one of the officials. "There is a large mobilization of the Syrian army ... elite Hezbollah fighters, and thousands of Iranians who arrived in stages in recent days," said the official.

The second official, who is close to the Syrian government, said: "The decision to launch the battle of Aleppo has been taken ... It is no longer hidden that thousands of Iranians are now in Syria and their role is fundamental."

Both officials said the attack would begin soon.

A general in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, Hossein Hamedani, was killed in Aleppo province while advising the Syrian army on their battle against Islamic State in the area, the guards said on Friday.

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The city of Aleppo was Syria's most populous before the civil war began in 2011 after Assad cracked down on anti-government protests. The government controls western areas of the city, and an array of insurgent groups control the east.

Islamic State and other insurgents, including groups backed by Assad's foreign enemies, have been fighting each other north of the city in an area of territory where Turkey and the United States have been laying plans to crush Islamic State.

The northern Aleppo region is one area where the U.S.-led coalition bombing Islamic State in Syria has flown missions.

Russia says its air strikes in Syria that began Sept. 30 were targeting Islamic State, though many of them have struck in areas held by other rebel groups, including some that have received backing from Assad's foreign enemies.

Last week, Islamic State fighters seized a number of villages near Aleppo city from other insurgent groups. Syrian state TV announced government forces had captured an area from Islamic State just north of the city on Monday.

(Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Grant McCool)

See more photos of the unrest in Syria:

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Syrian war overview (2015)
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Exclusive: Syrian army, allies preparing attack in Aleppo area - sources
A Syrian refugee carries a baby over the broken border fence into Turkey after breaking the border fence and crossing from Syria in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, Sunday, June 14, 2015. The mass displacement of Syrians across the border into Turkey comes as Kurdish fighters and Islamic extremists clashed in nearby city of Tal Abyad. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
IDLIB, SYRIA - SEPTEMBER 06: Syrian search and rescue team search for the victims after Syrian regime attack in Ariha neighborhood in Idlib, Syria on September 6, 2015. A separate attack carried out by Syrian army helicopters in the town of Ariha south of Idlib killed at least six others, another local civil defense source said. (Photo by Mohammad Amen Qurabi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DAMASCUS, SYRIA - AUGUST 20 : Syrian firefighters try to extinguish a fire at a building after Asad regime forces' airstrikes on a residential area in the opposition controlled Damascus suburb of Douma, Syria on August 20, 2015. (Photo by Motaseem Rashed/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DARAA, SYRIA - AUGUST 19 : A view of the destruction after the Assad regime forces shelling on the opposition-controlled areas in Daraa, Syria on August 19, 2015. Many buildings including houses, workplaces and infrastructure were damaged in the attacks. (Photo by Ammar el Ali/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ALEPPO, SYRIA - JUNE 09: An injured Syrian man is carried on a stretcher by emergency staff after a barrel bomb attack dropped by Syrian regime forces on a bakery in Ansari neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria on June 09, 2015. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Syrian refugees wait between Syria and Turkish border as Turkish soldiers block them to pass Turkish side, on June 9, 2015, at Akcakale, in Sanliurfa province. Some 4,000 Syrians have sought refuge in Turkey this week, fleeing fresh clashes pitting Kurdish fighters against the Islamic State (IS) group, a Turkish official said Friday. Kurdish forces are trying to drive the militants out of Tel Abyad, in Syria's Hassakah province, close to the Turkish border town of Akcakale. AFP PHOTO / BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
Syrian rescue workers and citizens evacuate people from a building following a reported barrel bomb attack by Syrian government forces on the central al-Fardous rebel held neighbourhood of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, on June 9, 2015. AFP PHOTO / KARAM AL-MASRI (Photo credit should read KARAM AL-MASRI/AFP/Getty Images)
A Syrian man carries a body after it was removed from the rubble of buildings following a reported barrel bomb attack by government forces on the Qadi Askar district of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on May 20, 2015. AFP PHOTO / AMC / ZEIN AL-RIFAI (Photo credit should read ZEIN AL-RIFAI/AFP/Getty Images)
Smoke billows following the detonation of explosives placed by Syrian government forces inside a tunnel that was reportedly used by rebels in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on May 19, 2015. AFP PHOTO / GEORGE OURFALIAN (Photo credit should read GEORGE OURFALIAN/AFP/Getty Images)
A fighter from a local popular committee, which supports the Syrian government forces, guards a look out point in the Hamidiyeh neighbourhood of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo as they try to defend the traditionally Christian district on the third day of intense battles with Islamic State group jihadists on April 9, 2015. AFP PHOTO / GEORGE OUFALIAN (Photo credit should read GEORGE OURFALIAN/AFP/Getty Images)
In this photo released on May 4, 2015, by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, Islamic State militants pass by a convoy in Tel Abyad town, northeast Syria. In contrast to the failures of the Iraqi army, in Syria Kurdish fighters are on the march against the Islamic State group, capturing towns and villages in an oil-rich swath of the country's northeast in recent days, under the cover of U.S.-led airstrikes. (Militant website via AP)
A man walks past the rubble of a building following reported shelling by Syrian government forces in the Bab al-Hadid neighbourhood of the northern city of Aleppo on April 18, 2015. Aleppo has been devastated by fighting since rebel fighters seized its eastern half in 2012, setting up a front line that carves through its historic heart. AFP PHOTO / ZEIN AL-RIFAI (Photo credit should read ZEIN AL-RIFAI/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Tuesday June 2, 2015 file photo, a migrant from Syria waits at the port of Kos island, Greece, after she and others were rescued by the Greek Coast Guard while they were trying to cross from Turkey to Greece on a dinghy. Greece and Italy are the main points of entry into the European Union for refugees and economic migrants from the Middle East and Africa hoping to reach other European Union countries. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris, File)
A Kurdish fighter poses with a rabbit on the outskirts of the Syrian town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, on March 30, 2015. Islamic State (IS) fighters were driven out of Kobane on January 26, by Kurdish and allied forces. AFP PHOTO/YASIN AKGUL (Photo credit should read YASIN AKGUL/AFP/Getty Images)
Young boys play on a destroyed building near a sign reading 'Kobane' in the Syrian town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, on March 28, 2015. Islamic State (IS) fighters were driven out of Kobane on January 26 by Kurdish and allied forces. AFP PHOTO / YASIN AKGUL (Photo credit should read YASIN AKGUL/AFP/Getty Images)
Kurdish men sit near bonfire near a destroyed building, in the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, on March 22, 2015. AFP PHOTO/YASIN AKGUL (Photo credit should read YASIN AKGUL/AFP/Getty Images)
A female Syrian soldier from the Republican Guard commando battalion fires a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) during clashes with rebels in the restive Jobar area, in eastern Damascus, on March 25, 2015. The female battalion, which was created nearly a year ago, consists of 800 female soldiers who are positioned in the suburbs of the Syrian capital where they monitor and secure the frontlines with snipers, rockets and machine guns. AFP PHOTO / JOSEPH EID (Photo credit should read JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images)
A Syrian Kurdish boy sits on a destroyed tank in the Syrian town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, on March 27, 2015. Islamic State (IS) fighters were driven out of Kobane on January 26 by Kurdish and allied forces. AFP PHOTO/YASIN AKGUL (Photo credit should read YASIN AKGUL/AFP/Getty Images)
A man walks through the rubble following reported air strikes by government forces on the eastern Shaar neighbourhood of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on March 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO / AMC / ZEIN AL-RIFAI (Photo credit should read ZEIN AL-RIFAI/AFP/Getty Images)
A female Syrian soldier from the Republican Guard commando battalion drives a tank during clashes with rebels in the restive Jobar area, in eastern Damascus, on March 25, 2015. The female battalion, which was created nearly a year ago, consists of 800 female soldiers who are positioned in the suburbs of the Syrian capital where they monitor and secure the frontlines with snipers, rockets and machine guns. AFP PHOTO / JOSEPH EID (Photo credit should read JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images)
A Kurdish Syrian woman weeps away the debris from what is left of a destroyed building in town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, on March 24, 2015. Islamic State (IS) fighters were driven out of Kobane on January 26, by Kurdish and allied forces. AFP PHOTO/YASIN AKGUL (Photo credit should read YASIN AKGUL/AFP/Getty Images)
A Syrian schoolgirl stands next a damaged wall outside her school in the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, on March 25, 2015. Islamic State (IS) fighters were driven out of Kobane on January 26 by Kurdish and allied forces. AFP PHOTO/YASIN AKGUL (Photo credit should read YASIN AKGUL/AFP/Getty Images)
GRAPHIC CONTENTWounded Syrian children react as they wait for treatment at a clinic in the rebel-held area of Douma, east of the capital Damascus, following reported air strikes by regime forces on March 13, 2015. More than 210,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began in March 2011. AFP PHOTO / ABD DOUMANY (Photo credit should read ABD DOUMANY/AFP/Getty Images)
A photo taken on January 30, 2015 shows the eastern part of the destroyed city of Halimce, east of the Syrian town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab. Kurdish forces recaptured the town on the Turkish frontier on January 26, in a symbolic blow to the jihadists who have seized large swathes of territory in their onslaught across Syria and Iraq. AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
Syrian children reenact scenes, they said to have seen in Islamic State jihadist group videos, in the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Douma, on March 5, 2015. Syria's conflict began as a popular uprising but evolved into a multi-front civil war that has divided the country into a patchwork of fiefdoms controlled by different factions, including the extremist Islamic State group. AFP PHOTO / ABD DOUMANY (Photo credit should read ABD DOUMANY/AFP/Getty Images)
In this Monday, March 16, 2015 photo, pregnant Syrian refugee Wadhah Hamada, 22, poses for a portrait inside her tent at an informal settlement near the Syrian border, on the outskirts of Mafraq, Jordan. Hamada, who fled al-Hasaka, Syria, says she has no clue how her four-month pregnancy is progressing. “I can’t afford to pay 50 Jordanian dinars ($70) for my ultrasound and other medical checks,” she says. “Our future is dark, my life is in a tent and my first child’s life won't be different.” (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
A picture taken on March 2, 2015 shows pupils attending the first day of school in the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, as they returned to class after Kurdish and rebel forces expelled Islamic State (IS) group jihadists from the town following more than four months of fighting. AFP PHOTO / MICHALIS KARAGIANNIS (Photo credit should read Michalis Karagiannis/AFP/Getty Images)
A Kurd stands in a building as pigeons fly over in the center of the Syrian border town of Kobane, known as Ain al-Arab, on January 28, 2015. Kurdish forces recaptured the strategic town on the Turkish frontier on January 26 in a symbolic blow for the jihadists who have seized swathes of territory in a brutal onslaught across Syria and Iraq. AFP PHOTO / BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
A rebel fighter holds a position in al-Mayasat, a rebel-controlled area near the industrial zone of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on February 4, 2015. Nearly four million people have been forced by war to flee Syria altogether, and millions more are living in misery in areas that have fallen out of government control. AFP PHOTO / AMC / ZEIN AL-RIFAI (Photo credit should read ZEIN AL-RIFAI/AFP/Getty Images)
Syrian Kurdish refugee boy Arif, 10, poses on February 1, 2015 at the Rojava refugee camp in Sanliurfa. AFP PHOTO / BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
A Kurdish fighter walks with his child in the center of the Syrian border town of Kobane, known as Ain al-Arab, on January 28, 2015. Kurdish forces recaptured the strategic town on the Turkish frontier on January 26 in a symbolic blow for the jihadists who have seized swathes of territory in a brutal onslaught across Syria and Iraq. AFP PHOTO / BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
Smoke rises from the Syrian city of Kobani, following an airstrike by the US led coalition, seen from a hilltop outside Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border Monday, Nov. 17, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
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