Share This Page

Syrian rebels push for control of airport

| Monday, Feb. 18, 2013, 9:21 p.m.

Syrian rebels captured a government checkpoint on the main road to the country's second-largest airport on Monday as opposition fighters pressed their campaign to capture the strategic facility in the northern city of Aleppo, activists said.

The rebels started a major attack on the airport and the adjacent Nairab military airfield last week. They have since overrun the main army base protecting the area. Control of the airport would provide a significant boost for the opposition and mark a strategic shift in the country's 23-month civil war.

The fighting has been raging for weeks, but it was only in early February when the rebels captured the strategic Aleppo neighborhood of Sheik Said near the airport, which has been shut down because of the violence, that the offensive gained momentum.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Aleppo Media Center reported that rebels captured the main fuel station on the Nairab base. The Observatory said there were several regime casualties and five rebels, including foreign fighters, killed before rebels withdrew from the station a few hours later.

The fight for the international airport in Aleppo, Syria's largest city and commercial hub, highlights the importance that both sides in the conflict place on controlling strategic assets that could provide an edge in the larger fight for the country.

Last week, rebels seized a hydroelectric dam and a major oil field, cutting off President Bashar Assad's regime from key resources necessary for its long-term survival. Rebels seized an air defense base and fought near two other army installations in Syria's north.

Aleppo's airport is crucial in the broader fight for the city.

Rebels started an offensive on Aleppo in July and quickly seized several neighborhoods.

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.