Agence France Presse
Published — Sunday 18 November 2012
Last update 19 November 2012 11:26 am
BEIRUT: Syrian rebel fighters on Sunday took control of part of a strategic army base they have been laying siege to for weeks in the northern province of Aleppo, a watchdog and residents said.
“Violent battles between the army and rebels belonging to several insurgent groups are raging around the army’s Base 46, which rebels have besieged for weeks,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“Rebels have seized control of a large part of Base 46,” the Britain-based watchdog added.
During their assault on the sprawling base, which is situated atop a hill near the town of Atarib, the rebel fighters also seized heavy weapons from the military.
“Opposition fighters launched a violent assault on the base, after besieging it for more than a month,” a student from Atarib, who only identified himself as Ibrahim, told AFP.
Among other weapons, the rebels used “two tanks to shell the base with mortar rounds and handmade missiles,” 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 also hit other southern neighborhoods 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 that state television blamed on “terrorist groups.”
Fighting also raged in Deir Ezzor in the east, where rebels on Saturday said they seized Hamdan airport, a helicopter gunship base.
At least 32 people were killed across Syria on Sunday, according to a preliminary toll compiled by the Observatory. Among them were 10 civilians, 12 soldiers and 10 rebel fighters.
Sunday’s fighting came a day after at least 146 people were killed nationwide, according to the Observatory, which has put the death toll in more than 20 months of conflict at upwards of 39,000.