Syria: Battle for Idlib air base rages as jets bomb Damascus
Clashes in Syria between government troops and rebels since Monday have forced Aleppo airport to close while fierce battles and air strikes were reported in Damascus’ suburbs.
Rebels also fought pitched battles with troops over the Taftanaz air base near Idlib on Wednesday, according to London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The battle for Afis military air base near Taftanaz is the latest in a string of rebel advances on military positions in Syria.
The rebels had earlier said they would target civilian airliners near Aleppo airport, which they argued were being used to transport government weapons and personnel.
Activists say more than 46,000 people have been killed in the 22-month-old uprising and armed conflict.
In Damascus, the suburb of Daraya witnessed heavy fighting, with air power reportedly used against rebel positions. The suburb is strategically important, being close to the district of Mezzah, which has a key air base, and Kfar Sousseh, home to many government and intelligence facilities.
"There is no 'Happy New Year'," Moaz al-Shami, an opposition activist who lives in central Mezzeh district, told Reuters.
While predictions abound as to whether President Bashar al-Assad can survive for much longer, some commentators are cautioning about suggesting the regime is near collapse.
Long-time Syria watcher Joshua Landis told NPR Assad could survive well into 2013.
“I don’t think he’ll be able to hold Damascus forever. I think it’s going to be a lot longer and a more bitter struggle than most people predict, he said. "Many have been saying that by this summer, in June, he’ll be out and finished. I suspect it’s going to take longer than that."