Syrian rebels seize army bases
Syrian rebels’ success in seizing three military bases in less than a week has underscored the growing difficulty faced by Damascus in securing its outposts and stopping a rebel encroachment that has claimed large swaths of the east and north of the country.
Attacks on the bases, one northeast of Aleppo, a second at Mayedin in the far east and a third near Damascus, yielded a large number of weapons, which had been in desperately short supply, especially in positions across Syria’s second city.
The impact of the new weapons seemed to have been felt immediately along northern frontlines, where Kurdish groups loyal to the Assad regime were yesterday engaged in their heaviest clashes yet with rebel forces and jihadists, near the border town of Ras al-Ain.
Up to 30 fighters on both sides had been killed by nightfall, with the battle expected to rage throughout the weekend. Rebels and Kurdish groups clashed in Aleppo earlier this month but had since struck a detente.
Each of the bases raided had been among the last regime strongholds in their respective parts of the country and had in effect become fortresses in hostile territory.
All the while, the most formidable weapon in the regime armoury – air force jets – were present in the skies nearby. The regime’s jet fleet of Russian-made MiGs has remained a lethal threat since they were deployed in mid-summer shortly after opposition groups stormed the capital, Damascus, and Aleppo.
Their menace was emphasised yet again on Wednesday when a bomb dropped from a jet scored a direct hit on the main opposition-held al-Shifa hospital in the Shaar district of Aleppo, killing up to 40 people. Among the dead in al-Shifa were trauma surgeons and specialists who had treated scores of casualties each day for the past four months. – (Guardian service)