Syria rebels target Assad air power
BEIRUT: Rebels seized an air defense facility and attacked a military airport in eastern Syria yesterday, a monitoring group said, hitting back at an air force on which President Bashar Assad is increasingly relying to crush his opponents. The attacks in eastern oil-producing Deir Al-Zor province follow rebel strikes against military airports in the Aleppo and Idlib areas, close to the border with Turkey.
Rebels in Deir Al-Zor overran an air defense building early yesterday, taking at least 16 captives and seizing an unknown number of anti-aircraft rockets, said Rami Abdulrahman of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Video posted on the Internet by activists showed the officers and soldiers captured by the rebel fighters, and Al Arabiya television broadcast footage of what it said were rockets and ammunition seized in the raid.
Abdulrahman said rebels also attacked the Hamdan military airbase at Albu Kamal, close to Syria’s eastern border with Iraq, but did not succeed in breaking into it.
The attacks come three days after rebels attacked the Taftanaz air base in Idlib province, where they said several helicopters were damaged. The insurgents also said they have shot down a fighter jet and a helicopter last week.
Bombardments of northern towns such as Azaz and Anadan, of which Assad lost control weeks ago, have led to thousands of residents fleeing to safety in Turkey.
Posted by: Steve White