Rebel tunnel blast re-ignites west Aleppo

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After weeks of quiet in western Aleppo city, rebel fighters battled regime forces on Tuesday for the second day in the Zahra neighborhood after they detonated a tunnel underneath an orphanage adjacent to the city’s Air Force Intelligence complex. The orphanage was 90% destroyed in the explosion, a spokesman for the Dawn of the Caliphate Brigades, responsible for the explosion, told Syria Direct on Tuesday. “But we weren’t able to storm it because of heavy fire,” he said, adding that “the battle is ongoing.” The brigade spokesman said rebels were “forced” to blow up the tunnel “out of fear that the regime forces would discover it since their soldiers were also digging in the same area.” The largely pro-regime Zahra neighborhood contains several military installations, including the mostly destroyed Air Force Intelligence compound. It sits on the edge of regime-controlled west Aleppo, while rebels control the countryside to the north and west. Monday’s explosion marks the fifth time this year rebels have detonated a tunnel in the area around the Air Force intelligence complex. Rebels were previously able to destroy and capture large portions of the complex in March before being pushed out.