Rebels seize northern Syria’s largest airbase
Syrian air force helicopters sit on the tarmac at the Minakh military airport near the northern city of Aleppo on Friday (Photo: AFP/ZAC BAILLIE)
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Syrian rebels took control of Taftanaz airbase, the largest in northern Syria, on Friday, following days of fierce combat with government forces, according to reports from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Director of the UK-based rights group, Rami Abdel Rahman, told AFP that the base fell into rebel hands at approximately 11:00 am local time (09:00 GMT).
“Many regime forces have been killed and most of the soldiers and officers fled at dawn," he said.
The capture of Taftanaz airbase marks a significant advance for rebel forces who already control vast swathes of north and east Syria.
Anti-government activists said fighters from Jabhat al-Nusra and other groups opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had seized control of buildings, ammunition and military equipment in the airbase in the northern province of Idlib.
According to the Observatory, government forces pulled out most of the 60 helicopters deployed at the airbase but rebels were still able to seize several military vehicles and a major weapons depot.
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