Syrian rebels capture air base near Aleppo (VIDEO)


Medics treat a boy injured near Ain Jalut school in Aleppo, Syria, on Aug. 6, 2013. Rebels - including the Islamic State of Iraq, the Levant (a jihad group) and other opposition forces - fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have captured the Minnigh air base after a months-long battle, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.



Rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad seized Minnigh air base on Tuesday, a monitoring group said.

"The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (jihadist group) and other opposition groups took total control at dawn today of Minnigh air base," a long fought-over military airport near the northern city of Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Also Tuesday, Syrian state media said 18 people were killed in a car bomb attack near Damascus, reported Reuters

The blast was reported in Jaramana, an area the Associated Press described as "an overwhelmingly pro-regime district" southeast of the capital. 

Earlier Tuesday, in Aleppo, rebels swarmed the air base after sending in a suicide bomber to blow himself up near the compound’s main building on Monday.

As the rebels advanced on the base, the Assad regime deployed warplanes to strike several opposition-held towns in Aleppo's countryside.

Rebel groups have been fighting loyalists for Minnigh air base for some eight months, as part of a battle in Aleppo province to stop the regime from using warplanes to strike areas in opposition hands.

The victory will boost morale for the rebels, who have been pushed out of the central city of Homs and the suburbs of Damascus in recent weeks.

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It also frees up rebel troops to join the fight in other locations, including Aleppo itself, analysts told The Washington Post.

“The seizure of (Minnigh) will likely prove a turning point within the wider Aleppo and northwest theaters,” Charles Lister, an analyst for IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center, told The Post.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.