February 14, 2013 - 09:17 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Syrian rebels fought pitched battles Wednesday, Feb13, against regime forces at a military base that protects a major airport in the country's north in fighting that has left more than 40 government troops dead, opposition activists said, according to The Associated Press.
Rebels have been attacking the civilian airport in the city of Aleppo for weeks, and now appear to have overrun the main defenses around the facility. But the airport itself, which stopped handling any flights weeks ago because of the fighting, still remains in regime hands.
On Tuesday, opposition fighters captured large parts of the "Brigade 80" base near the airport and attacked another major air base, Nairab, adjacent to the international airport after taking control of al-Manara army checkpoint just outside it.
By Wednesday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the rebels were "almost fully in control" of the "Brigade 80" base. He said more than 40 government troops were killed in the fighting, including two brigadier generals, a colonel and two lieutenant colonels. The report could not be independently confirmed.
Heavy clashes were also still raging for control of the Nairab base as well as outside the civilian airport, which both have their own defenses in addition to the protection provided by Brigade 80.
Abdul-Rahman said the brigade is an air defense force that's main task is to protect the international airport and the Nairab air base.