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Rights group: Rebels claim to take control over Taftanaz military base in Idlib province

Last modified: 9 Jan 2013 19:20

AFP reports:

Fighters seized on Wednesday parts of  a large military airport in northwestern Syria after a weeks-long siege, said a  monitoring group.

"Troops clashed with Al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham fighters inside the Taftanaz military airport, after rebels broke in and seized large swathes of  its grounds," said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The fighters destroyed several helicopter gunships during their assault, said the Observatory, which relies on a network of doctors, lawyers and activists for its reporting. Army tanks pounded the airport grounds and several nearby villages in a bid to root out the rebels, said the watchdog.

Without commenting on the rebels' progress, a military source told AFP that several air strikes were carried out in the area to try and force insurgents to withdraw from areas surrounding the airport.

The fight for control of this base has been raging for months.