Syrian fighters seize key airport

Updated 13 February 2013
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Syrian fighters seize key airport

DAMASCUS: Fighters yesterday overran a military air base and captured warplanes, a day after seizing control of Syria’s largest dam as they pushed an assault on strategic targets in the north of the country.
The military advance came as prospects for a political solution to Syria’s civil war faded and as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged President Bashar Assad’s regime to accept an offer of dialogue by an opposition leader.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the fighters captured a military airport in Al-Hajar in Aleppo province, and in the process seized for the first time a fleet of deployable warplanes including MiG fighter jets.
During their assault on the airport, the fighters killed, injured or imprisoned some 40 troops, the Britain-based watchdog said, adding that the rest of the troops pulled out, leaving behind ammunition and warplanes.
Soon afterwards, the air force used fighter jets to bombard the airport to try to dislodge fighters there, the A military source in Aleppo confirmed the capture “after 48 hours of fierce combat,” but downplayed the importance of Al-Jarrah.
“It is a very small airport, used for training purposes,” he said. “There are only small amounts of unusable ammunition left there, and several planes that have long been out of action.”
The Observatory said the fighters captured “dozens of fighter jets, most of them type MiG 17, and others type Sukhoi L39.”
Activists meanwhile reported the launch of offensives on the Aleppo international airport and Nayrab military airport nearby, although the military source denied any such assaults. The Observatory meanwhile also reported a capture of the main road linking Aleppo province to neighboring Raqa, and a checkpoint near Aleppo’s airport.
Activists in Aleppo have told AFP that fighters in the north have shifted their focus from city battles to the capture of military airports and bases. “They are important because they are an instant source of ammunition and supplies, and because their capture means putting out of action the warplanes used to bombard us,” Aleppo-based activist Abu Hisham said via the Internet.
While the fighters have notched up victories in northern and eastern Syria they have yet to take a major city in the war-ravaged country almost two years into the revolution.
The capture of Al-Jarrah airport came just over a month after fighters overran Taftanaz airbase, the largest in northern Syria.
Amateur video shot by fighters overrunning Al-Jarrah and distributed via the Internet showed a fleet of warplanes lining the airport’s runways.
“Thank God, Ahrar Al-Sham overrun the military airport” at Al-Jarrah, said an unidentified cameraman who shot a video at the site.
“MiG warplanes are now in the hands of Ahrar Al-Sham. And here is the ammunition,” the cameraman added, filming two Russian-made fighter jets similar to those used by the army since last summer to bombard targets.


Israel drops leaflets warning Gazans not to approach border

Updated 20 April 2018
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Israel drops leaflets warning Gazans not to approach border

GAZA: Israel dropped leaflets in the Gaza Strip on Friday warning Palestinians not to approach its border fence as the military braced for fresh clashes along the frontier.
Thousands of Palestinians were expected to gather along the Israel-Gaza border, as they have every Friday over the past month for mass demonstrations that have turned violent and during which Israeli forces have killed thirty-one Palestinians and wounded hundreds.
Each week, some Gazans have hurled stones and burning tires near the frontier fence, where Israeli army sharpshooters are deployed.
The soldiers have opened fire at those who come too close to the fence, drawing international criticism for the lethal tactics used.
Israel has blamed the Islamist militant group Hamas of staging riots and trying to carry out attacks.
It was the first time leaflets were dropped in the recent round of violence.
“The Hamas terror organization is taking advantage of you in order to carry out terror attacks. The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) is prepared for all scenarios. Stay away from the fence and do not attempt to harm it,” said the leaflets scattered by Israeli aircraft in the early morning in areas along the border.
The mass protest, dubbed “The Great March of Return” — evoking a longtime call for refugees to regain ancestral homes in what is now Israel — began on March 30 and is expected to culminate on May 15.