Syria rebels take back strategic hospital in Aleppo

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Media caption,

Footage uploaded on YouTube by a rebel group shows the lorry approaching and the blast

Rebels in the Syrian city of Aleppo have set off a massive suicide lorry bomb to seize back a strategic ruined hospital occupied by Assad loyalists.

A huge fireball engulfed the al-Kindi Hospital, the blast bringing down the central section of the disused building, in Friday's daylight attack.

Militants driving up in an armoured personnel carrier later piled into one of its wings.

According to an unconfirmed report, 35 rebels died in the attack.

The hospital stands close to a besieged government prison.

Analysts say the capture of the ruined hospital does not alter significantly the balance of forces in Aleppo, Syria's battle-scarred second city, but it is a boost for the rebels and their Islamist allies after recent reverses.

Image caption,
Syrian photographer Molhem Barakat was killed during the fighting near the hospital. This is one of his photographs from earlier in December, of a rebel gunman in Aleppo
Image caption,
Another photo by Barakat from November shows a rebel preparing rockets in Aleppo
Image caption,
Molhem Barakat was 18

Regarded before the war as one of Syria's most modern clinics, the building has changed hands at least three times now in ferocious fighting.

The gunmen who overran the ruined hospital included both conservative Muslim groups and factions with links to al-Qaeda, Aleppo-based activist Abu al-Hassan Marea was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

Syrian photographer Molhem Barakat, who had taken pictures for Reuters news agency as a freelance, was killed during Friday's fighting in Aleppo.