Thursday 21 November 2019

Rebels use tanks in attack on Aleppo airbase

A member of the Free Syrian Army flashes the victory sign on a captured tank after taking control of a checkpoint from government forces in Anadan, north Aleppo. Photo: Reuters
A member of the Free Syrian Army flashes the victory sign on a captured tank after taking control of a checkpoint from government forces in Anadan, north Aleppo. Photo: Reuters

Damien McElroy in Aleppo

SYRIAN rebels used captured army tanks to attack an air force base north of Aleppo yesterday as they sought a strategic victory by depriving the regime of its ability to target opposition positions from the air.

Free Syrian Army gunners fired from five tanks in a massed attack on the Minakh base near the Turkish border, in one of the first recorded uses of heavy weapons by the revolutionaries.

The base has been used by the Assad regime for air strikes and helicopter gunship attacks against rebel positions in Aleppo, where a fierce fight for control of Syria's second city has been raging for a week.

Although the rebels failed to capture the base during their initial attack in the early hours of yesterday, a fighter who identified himself as Capt Kim said: "We will keep going back until we beat them."

The fall of the Minakh base, 30 miles outside the city, would deny the regime a significant part of its armoury and could also allow foreign governments to fly in shipments.

Opposition activists yesterday claimed that more than 35 people, mostly unarmed civilians, were killed in clashes on the outskirts of Damascus. There was no independent verification of the accounts.

Residents in Aleppo reported that internet and mobile phones were barely working.

With its proximity to rebel-friendly Turkey just to the north, Aleppo has enormous strategic importance to the opposition and if the rebels were able to capture and hold it, the city could form the kernel of a wider rebel-controlled zone.

The Syrian army, however, still has many more tanks and armoured vehicles than the rebels and there was no indication that yesterday's attack on the air base was particularly effective. Later, a nearby village was shelled by government forces out of that same air base. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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