x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Syrian rebels capture military airport near Aleppo

The Jarrah airbase, 46 kilometres east of Aleppo, has come under the control of rebel units and the motorway linking Aleppo to the east of the country is in opposition hands, the Shaam News Network says.

Syrian opposition fighters captured a military airport near the northern city of Aleppo yesterday, an opposition organisation said.

The airport is the latest military facility in the region between Syria's industrial and commercial centre and its oil and wheat producing heartland to the east to fall under rebel control.

The Jarrah airbase, 46 kilometres east of Aleppo, came under the control of rebel units who have been surrounding it for weeks, and the motorway linking Aleppo to the east of the country is in opposition hands, the Shaam News Network said.

Video footage showed fighters from the Islamic Free Sham Movement inspecting the airport. Several fighter jets were shown on the ground at the airport and in concrete shelters.

The video footage could not be independently verified.

Abu Abdallah Minbig, one of the opposition commanders at the airport, told Reuters by phone that two operational MiG jets and some ammunition were found intact at the base.

"The airport was being used to bomb northern and eastern rural Aleppo. By capturing it, we have cut the regime's supply line from Aleppo to the east," Mr Minbig said.

He said the Syrian army would struggle to send reinforcements to stop a rebel advance in the adjacent Raqqa province, where rebels captured the country's largest hydroelectric dam this week.