Syrian rebels including jihadists began a counter-attack against the army and its allies on Friday aiming to break a weeks-long siege on eastern Aleppo, insurgents said.

The assault, employing heavy shelling and suicide car bombs, was mainly focused on the city’s western edge by rebels based outside Aleppo. It included Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, a former affiliate of al Qaeda previously known as the Nusra Front, and groups fighting under the Free Syrian Army (FSA) banner.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based war monitor, said more than 15 civilians had been killed and 100 wounded by rebel shelling of government-held western Aleppo. State media reported that five civilians were killed.

There were conflicting accounts of advances in areas on the city’s outskirts.