Islamic State fighters seize key Syrian government airbase

Islamic State fighters seize key Syrian government airbase

PanARMENIAN.Net - Fighters from Islamic State (IS) have taken control of a key Syrian government airbase, activists said, according to BBC News.

The Tabqa airbase was the last remaining stronghold of Bashar al-Assad's government in Raqqa province. State TV confirmed that government forces had "evacuated" the airbase. Days of fighting there have reportedly killed hundreds on both sides.

More than 191,000 people have now been killed in the three-year-old Syrian conflict up to April, the UN says.

IS, formerly known as ISIS, has expanded its reach into large parts of eastern Syria and northern Iraq in recent months.

The U.S. has launched limited airstrikes against the group in Iraq but has not targeted them in Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based activist group with opposition ties, said clashes around the airbase were ongoing but added that the base was under IS control. Hundreds of soldiers and IS fighters had died in the past few days' fighting around the base, the Observatory said.

Syrian state television confirmed that government troops had lost control of the base.

"After heavy fighting by the forces defending the Tabqa airbase, our forces implemented a regrouping operation after the evacuation of the airbase," it said. Government forces were conducting airstrikes on the base after the troops evacuated, it reported.

The base lies around 45km (30 miles) outside Raqqa city, the main powerbase of IS, and is believed to hold dozens of warplanes, helicopters, tanks and artillery.

Analysts say the fall of the base is a significant blow for the Syrian government's ability to project air power into the north of the country.

The base was the last remaining government outpost in the province. The militants have celebrated previous victories over two other bases by displaying the severed heads of soldiers in the middle of the town, the BBC says.

IS fighters have steadily taken over several government military bases in Raqqa province in recent weeks, including the Division 17 base just outside Raqqa town.

In a separate incident, Syrian government forces killed 32 rebels in an ambush in Deraa in southern Syria, activists said. State media confirmed the attack, and said tens of fighters had been killed.

 Top stories
The team said they had also been barred from completing work at some sites to which they had been initially admitted.
"The terrorist organization Islamic State is a threat to public safety in Germany as well," said Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere.
Until recently, India had largely seen itself as beyond the recruiting territory of international jihadists like al Qaeda.
The political leader of Iraq's Kurds earlier appealed for international military aid to help defeat the Islamist militants.
Partner news
Soghomon Tehlirian assassinated Talaat Pasha on March 15, 1921

Operation Nemesis was a covert operation by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation carried out from 1920 to 1922, during which a number of former Ottoman political and military figures were assassinated for their role in the Armenian Genocide.