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Syrian rebels seize air base

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This image from a video shows a Syrian fighter jet in a hangar after rebels captured an airfield in Aleppo on Tuesday.— Photo: AP
This image from a video shows a Syrian fighter jet in a hangar after rebels captured an airfield in Aleppo on Tuesday.— Photo: AP

Rebels on Tuesday overran a military air base, the U.K.-based watchdog Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said, a day after seizing control of Syria’s largest dam as they pushed an assault on strategic targets in the north of the country.

The military advance came as prospects for a political solution to Syria’s civil war faded and as United Nations (U.N.) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to accept an offer of dialogue by Moaz al-Khatib, the opposition leader.

The Observatory said the rebels captured a military airport in Al-Hajjar in Aleppo province and, in the process, seized for the first time a fleet of deployable warplanes including MiG fighter jets.

During their assault on the airport, the rebels killed, injured or imprisoned some 40 troops, the Britain-based watchdog said.

Rebels also launched offensives on other airports in the region, activists said.

“At dawn Tuesday, several rebel battalions launched simultaneous assaults on Aleppo international airport and Nayrab military airport,” the grassroots anti-regime Aleppo Media Centre said via Facebook.

The international airport at Syria’s second city has been closed since January 1.

Activists in Aleppo have told AFP that fighters in the north have shifted their focus to the capture of military airports and bases. “They are important because they are an instant source of ammunition and supplies, and because their capture means putting out of action the warplanes used to bombard us,” Aleppo-based activist Abu Hisham said. — AFP




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