Battle for Syria’s Aleppo airport intensifiesThe Associated Press | February 24,2013BEIRUT — The battle for Syria’s second-largest airport intensified Saturday as government troops tried to reverse recent strategic gains the rebels have made in the northeast in their quest to topple President Bashar Assad.
Assad’s forces have been locked in a stalemate with rebels in Aleppo since July when the city, the largest in Syria, became a major battlefield in the two-year-old conflict the United Nations says has killed at least 70,000 people. Rebels have been trying to capture the international airport for months.
Rami Abdul-Rahman, director of the Britain-based activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the current fighting was focused on a section of a highway linking the airport with Aleppo, the commercial hub of the nation.
The rebels have cut off the highway, which the army has been using to transport troops and supplies to a military base within the airport complex. Rebels have made other advances in the battle for the complex in recent weeks, including capturing two army bases along the road to the airport.
The rebels also control large swaths of land outside Aleppo and whole neighborhoods inside the city, which is divided between areas controlled by the regime and others held by rebels. On Saturday, the army launched an offensive on opposition strongholds outside Damascus in an effort to dislodge rebels from areas around the capital that they have been trying to storm for weeks.
On Friday, regime forces fired three missiles into a rebel-held area in eastern Aleppo, hitting several buildings and killing 29 people, according to the Observatory. The group initially reported 14 casualties in the strike that apparently involved ground-to-ground missiles. Some bodies were recovered from the rubble of damaged buildings.
Recent rebel advances in the Damascus suburbs, combined with the bombings and three straight days of mortar attacks earlier this week marked the most sustained challenge to the heart of the capital, the seat of Assad’s power.
A suicide car bombing on Thursday near the ruling Baath Party headquarters in the heart of Damascus killed 53 civilians and wounded more than 200, according to state media. Anti-regime activists put the death toll at 61, which would make it the deadliest bombing of the revolt in the capital.
The different tolls could not be reconciled.
Nobody claimed responsibility for the attack. Car bombs and suicide attacks have been a hallmark of Jabhat al-Nusra, an Islamic militant group fighting among the rebels. Nusra fighters, the most effective group on the battlefield, have led assaults on military installations and control swaths of territory in the north, including parts of Aleppo neighborhoods.MORE IN Wire NewsOTTAWA, Ontario — A gunman with a scarf over his face shot to death a Canadian soldier standing... Full StoryWASHINGTON — Come January, nearly 60 million Social Security recipients will get benefit... Full Story
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1935, New York gangster, bootlegger, ruthless murderer Dutch Schultz, born Arthur Flegenheimer to Jewish-German immigrant parents, and three associates gunned down, killed, at the Palace Chophouse in Newark, N.J.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: Acclaimed illusionist & escape artist Harry Houdini, performing in Montreal in 1926, is sucker-punched by a McGill University student. Houdini doesn't know he has peritonitis - the punches are possible factor in his Oct. 31 death.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Rutland Police Chief James Baker to resign from the force at the end of the year to take a job in Washington, D.C., jury remains out in teacher killing murder trial, Rec Dept. releases report on what's wrong with White's Pool.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: Well diggers in Cardiff, New York, find what is thought to be the petrified body of a 10-foot-tall man, perfectly preserved after thousands of years, which becomes a popular roadside attraction until proven to be a fake.
- Pittsford Haunted House
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1720, 'Calico Jack' Rackham, Caribbean pirate and early feminist, known for recruiting women to his crew and for fabric decorating skills after creating 'Jolly Roger' flag, is captured by the British Royal Navy.