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Syria rebels take control of air defense battery, group says

Published November 3, 2012 9:23 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Syrian rebels clashed with armed forces loyal to President Bashar Assad near Idlib's Taftanaz military airport after taking control of an air defense battery in the city, an opposition group said.

Battles between the rebel Free Syrian forces and government troops Saturday involving the battery killed nine people, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

"We are surrounding the airport from all sides and will soon capture it," Mithqal al-Btesh, a rebel brigade commander in Idlib told Al Jazeera television. The fight had been fierce around Taftanaz airport, and his men blew up a military jet on the runway, he said.

At least 134 people died in violence across Syria on Saturday, including 47 in Idlib and 37 in or around Damascus, the opposition Local Coordination Committees said in an email.

Government forces loyal to Assad killed 4,532 civilians in October, an average of 147 people a day, the Syrian Network for Human Rights said in an email.

Russia, which continues to work with the Assad regime, said Friday that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's proposal for the opposition to search for new leaders to gain wider support is encouraging an "uncompromising" struggle to topple Assad. At least 35,000 people have been killed during the 19-month uprising, according to the U.K.-based group.

Syrian warplanes raided parts of the suburbs in the capital of Damascus on Saturday and engaged with rebel forces in Daraa and Homs, the Observatory group also said.




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