Syrian troops battled rebels Monday over a strategic Aleppo district that could be key to securing a nearby prison and laying siege to the city’s rebel-held east.

The Al-Watan daily, which is close to the government, said troops had advanced in the Sheikh Najjar district of Syria’s second city and onetime economic hub.

“The army has achieved new progress in Sheikh Najjar industrial city… during its military operation to cleanse the vicinity of the Aleppo central prison and lift the siege on it,” the newspaper said.