Syrian rebels inch closer to 2nd largest airport
By The Associated Press
Published: Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 8:00 p.m.
Syrian rebels knocked down army defenses and moved in on the country's second-largest airport on Wednesday, reportedly killing more than 40 soldiers and bringing them closer to what could be their biggest conquest since the beginning of the civil war.
Control of Aleppo international airport and a military air base next to it would be a huge strategic shift for Syria's northeastern region, giving the opposition a potential air hub enabling aid and other flights.
Still, activists said it could be days before the rebels would be able to push their way into the airport, 4 miles from the contested city center, and even then, it was unclear whether they would be able to retain control of the sprawling facility for long.
The country's air space is firmly controlled by the government, which uses its warplanes indiscriminately to bomb rebel strongholds.
The advance on the airport, which stopped handling any flights weeks ago because of the fighting, comes on the heels of other strategic gains. Rebels this week captured the nation's largest dam and a military base near Aleppo. They have also brought the fight closer to Damascus, seat of President Bashar Assad's regime, moving to within a few miles from the heart of the city.
“There has been some extremely significant advances by the rebels in the past few days. There is real fear and flagging morale among regime forces in the region,” said Muhieddine Lathkani, a London-based member of the Syrian National Council opposition group.
The government tried to reverse the gains with a series of airstrikes in several locations across the country Wednesday. In Jobar, a rebel stronghold in northeastern Damascus, 13 people were killed in government shelling, according to the Observatory. Fighter jets also carried out airstrikes on rebel positions in the central province of Homs, it said.
The rebels have been pushing their way into the capital since last week. The foray marks the opposition's second significant attempt to storm Damascus since July, when the rebels captured several neighborhoods before being swept out by a swift government counteroffensive.
Since then, the regime has buckled down in Damascus, setting up checkpoints and controlling movement in and out of the city. The heavily defended city so far has been spared the kind of violence that has devastated whole neighborhoods in other major cities such as Aleppo and the central city of Homs.
Show commenting policy
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.
- Holocaust survivors taxed, student finds in search of Amsterdam city archives
- Russia’s push into Ukraine leads NATO to increase its Baltics presence
- Former Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi to serve time helping seniors
- 100 schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria; militants blamed
- North Korean embassy officials in London pay visit to salon owner
- Ex-army chief, leftist to seek Egyptian presidency
- Radio transcript reveals South Korean ferry crew wavered on evacuation
- French sweep school’s males for DNA to try to solve rape
- In Egypt, government watchdog Genena hit by backlash in uncovering corruption
- Pro-Russian militants defy accord in eastern Ukraine
- French journalists freed from captivity in Syria