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Syrian rebels grab oil field, storm military base

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By The Associated Press
Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, 9:18 p.m.
 

Syrian rebels captured most of an eastern oil field and stormed a military base in the south, anti-regime activists said on Thursday, further chipping away at President Bashar Assad's hold on the country's hinterlands.

Although Assad's regime does not appear on the brink of collapse, rebels seeking his ouster have scored a string of strategic victories over the past week, also seizing a large dam and the defenses around a major airport. These and other blows have shrunk the portion of the country that Assad effectively governs and could deprive his regime of resources necessary for its survival.

Rebels took control of the town of Shadadah along the Euphrates River in eastern Syria, and had seized most of the nearby Jbeysa oil field, one of the country's largest, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The conquests were made after three days of battles.

Videos posted online in the last three days showed dozens of bearded rebels looting a large red building and making off with boots and green munitions boxes. The bodies of a few dead government soldiers lay in the dirt nearby.

“These are Assad's dogs,” one fighter said.

Rebels stormed a small military base near the town of al-Sahwa in the southern province of Daraa, near Jordan. The Observatory said at least four fighters were killed in clashes at the base, which rebels had surrounded and shelled for days before launching their raids.

Videos posted online showed rebels chanting in victory as what they said were destroyed tanks burned and sent up columns of smoke in the distance.

All videos appeared to be genuine and were consistent with other Associated Press reporting.

Rebels clashed again with government soldiers over control of the main airport in the northern city of Aleppo and on the east and south sides of the capital, Damascus, activists said.

On Wednesday, rebels stormed an army base near the Aleppo airport and the adjacent Nerab military airport. The fighting has prevented traffic to the airports for weeks.

Earlier this week, rebels captured the nation's largest dam, a main source of electricity and irrigation for nearby provinces.

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