Share This Page

Syrian rebels seize key air base; ramp up offensive

| Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, 7:24 p.m.

Syrian rebels and Islamic militants overran a major military air base in the north on Friday and, buoyed by the victory, intensified their offensive on two other bases in their most aggressive campaign yet to erode the air supremacy on which the regime of President Bashar Assad has increasingly relied the past year.

The rebels control the ground in large parts of the north, but they have been unable to solidify their grip because they — and civilians in rebel-held regions — come under withering strikes from aircraft stationed at a number of military bases in the area.

The Taftanaz air base in Idlib province is the largest air base to be captured by the rebels. It is the biggest field in the north for helicopters the military uses for strikes on rebels and for delivering supplies to government troops in the north to avoid the danger of meeting rebels on the roads.

Shortly after they captured the Taftanaz field, rebels in the neighboring province of Aleppo intensified their assault on the Mannagh air base and the international airport of the city of Aleppo, which includes a military base. Rebels have been trying to capture the two sites since last week.

International envoy Lakhdar Brahimi expressed little hope for a political solution soon to Syria's nearly two-year-old civil war after meeting on Friday with Russian and U.S. diplomats at the U.N. European headquarters. “If you are asking me whether a solution is around the corner, I'm not sure that is the case,” he said.

In Washington, a State Department spokeswoman said Brahimi's talks produced “some progress.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.