The leader of Lebanon's militant Hezbollah movement said Friday that the group would send more fighters to Syria to support the Damascus government.
Hassan Nasrallah declared in a speech that he was sending reinforcements to Aleppo province, where he said the "greatest" battle of the civil war was taking place.
"We will increase our presence in Aleppo," Nasrallah said. "Retreat is not permissible."
In a rare admission of casualties, Nasrallah also said 26 Hezbollah fighters who had arrived in Aleppo earlier were killed this month.
Hezbollah has sent thousands of fighters to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's troops. Last month, a top militant commander, Mustafa Badreddine, was killed in an explosion in Syria.
More clashes near Manbij
In another development Friday, continued fierce fighting was reported around the Syrian city of Manbij, a key stronghold of Islamic State militants.
The Syrian Observatory for Human rights, a monitoring group, said Syrian rebels backed by the United States had gained control of a wheat silo complex on the outskirts of Manbij, from which they could overlook much of the town.
The Syrian Democratic Forces, a rebel coalition of Kurdish and Arab forces backed by aerial support from the U.S.-led coalition, has spent weeks slowly encircling Manbij, capturing villages on the outskirts of the city.
The head of the Syrian observatory, Rami Abdulrahman, told VOA on Thursday that clashes had begun for the first time on the southern side of the city.
“Two things are preventing the SDF from taking full control of the city: civilians who are being used by Daesh [as human shields] and booby traps that the group has planted all over the city,” he said, using the Arabic acronym for IS.
Manbij had been one of the major supply lines for IS militants through areas of northern Syria they control. Local activists say loss of the town would be a significant setback for the terror group.