Syrian rebels today took control of part of a strategic army base they have besieged for weeks in the northern province of Aleppo, a watchdog and residents said.

The rebel fighters also captured at least 25 regime soldiers during clashes with the military at the same base, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“Several insurgent groups have seized control of a large part of Base 46,” said the Britain-based watchdog, citing activists in the region.

During their assault on the sprawling base, which is situated atop a hill near the town of Atarib, the rebel fighters seized heavy weapons from the military, it added.

Amateur rebel video distributed by the Observatory showed the prisoners being held in a dark room, nearly all of them wearing civilian clothing.

A student from Atarib, who only identified himself as Ibrahim, told AFP “opposition fighters launched a violent assault on the base, after besieging it for more than a month”.

The rebels used “two tanks to shell the base with mortar rounds and handmade missiles” among other weapons, he added.

In Damascus, meanwhile, Government forces bombarded the southern district of Al-Hajar al-Aswad with artillery, killing at least one civilian, the Observatory said.

The watchdog, which relies on a network of activists and medics in civilian and military hospitals to compile its tolls, said one civilian was killed and others wounded.

Army shells hit other southern neighbourhoods of Damascus, including Qadam and Assali, said the Syrian Revolution General Commission, a grassroots network of anti-regime activists.

Mortar rounds hit the mainly Alawite regime heartland of Mazzeh in west Damascus, in an attack state television blamed on “terrorist groups.”

Fighting also raged in Deir Ezzor in the East, where rebels yesterday said they seized Hamdan airport, a helicopter gunship base.

At least 50 people were killed across Syria today, according to an updated toll compiled by the Observatory.

Among them were 26 civilians, 12 soldiers and 12 rebel fighters.

(This article was published on November 19, 2012)
XThese are links to The Hindu Business Line suggested by Outbrain, which may or may not be relevant to the other content on this page. You can read Outbrain's privacy and cookie policy here.