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Syria rebels ‘seize government air base’

Syrian rebels have captured an air defence base east of Aleppo as government forces battled fighters on several fronts across the country, activists say.

News updated

October 12, 2012 11:27 pm

The air defence base seized by the rebels was located in al-Tana village by the Koris military airport on the road east from Aleppo to al-Raqqa, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Friday.

Clashes were also taking place at a military barracks close to Maarat al-Nuaman, a town on the main highway to the
northwestern city of Aleppo, which was seized by rebel forces earlier this week, the Observatory said.

The pro-opposition Observatory said rebels had gone on the offensive killing more than 100 soldiers in two days.

Fourteen soldiers died in an attack on an army post in the southern province of Daraa on Friday, it said, a
day after the army suffered 92 losses, the highest daily total for the military of the 19-month conflict.

The Britain-based watchdog gave a death toll for Thursday of more than 260 people, including civilians and fighters on both sides in violence in the capital and the north, west and east.

The official SANA news agency also reported fighting nationwide and said dozens of rebels, which it called “mercenary terrorists”, had been killed.

The reports could not be independently verified but they indicate a rapidly intensifying conflict, with the death tolls of the past several weeks far exceeding previous months.

This is a QuestCinq news update: October 08, 2012.

Syria’s military has intensified its aerial and ground bombardment of rebel-held areas around the country, particularly in the provinces of Idlib and Homs, activists say.

Government fighter jets bombed the town of Maarat al-Numan in Idlib on Monday, forcing many residents to flee their homes.

Meanwhile in Homs, heavy clashes were reported between government forces and opposition fighters in Homs’ al-Khalidiyeh neighbourhood, as videos posted online appeared to show barrels of TNT explosives being dropped on the besieged areas.

Opposition strongholds in Homs have been under siege for at least 120 days, with humanitarian conditions continuing to deteriorate.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Raji Rahmet Rabou, an activist in Homs, said: “The siege is a huge problem for us. We are dying every day, but nobody is paying attention to us.

“The last two days have been especially intense as the shelling has not stopped.”

Fighting in north and east

The northern province of Aleppo and eastern Deir Az-Zor province also witnessed clashes between President Bashar al-Assad’s troops and opposition fighters on Monday, activists reported.

In the southern province of Deraa, 20 people were reported killed in Karak al-Sharqi, including at least five rebel fighters, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said….(Aljazeera)

– Turkey’s prime minister said on Friday his country did not want war but warned Syria not to make a “fatal mistake” by testing its resolve, and its army retaliated for a third day running after more mortar rounds from Syria landed on its soil.

In a belligerent speech to a crowd in Istanbul, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that Turkeywould not shy away from war if provoked.

The speech followed a Syrian mortar barrage on a town in southeast Turkey that killed five people on Wednesday.

Turkish artillery bombarded Syrian military targets on Wednesday and Thursday in response, killing several Syrian soldiers, and the Turkish parliament authorized cross-border military action in the event of further aggression.

“We are not interested in war, but we’re not far from war either. This nation has come to where it is today having gone through intercontinental wars,” Erdogan said in his speech.

“Those who attempt to test Turkey’s deterrence, its decisiveness, its capacity, I say here they are making a fatal mistake.”…(Reuters)


–Rebels have targeted Syria’s army headquarters with two large bomb blasts in the centre of Damascus.

Military officials said one of the bombs had caused damage to the main building of the General Staff.

The rebel Free Syrian Army said it had carried out the attack and claimed dozens had been killed. The army said no personnel had died.

Gunfire reverberated around the city for hours after the bombings, as rebels fought with soldiers at the compound.

Syrian state TV quoted a military source saying no senior personnel were harmed by the explosions, but some of the building’s guards were wounded.

It said “terrorist attackers” had opened fire inside the perimeter of the compound and in nearby streets, and security forces had confronted them.

The blasts happened just before 07:00 local time (04:00 GMT) in an area dominated by government buildings.

Diplomats living close to the area said the blasts were the biggest they had heard for months.

Buildings more than 1km (half a mile) away shook violently under the force of the explosions.

Shattered windows

The BBC’s Rafid Jabboori in Damascus says the apparent target and timing are very significant.

The staff command compound represents the heart of the Syrian army, he says.

And the attack comes days after the Free Syrian Army announced it had moved its command from Turkey to Syria in an apparent attempt to bolster its fight against regime forces.

State television described the blasts, close to one of the city’s busiest areas at Umayyad Square, as a terrorist attack.

Roads leading to the area were blocked off as the authorities dealt with the aftermath….(BBC)

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