The rebel strategy of taking Syrian government bases and airports in north Syria to prevent the regime from resupplying its forces in the north has made strides this week. The LAT reports that the revolutionaries are fighting for Aleppo International Airport, having taking Jarrah military airport a couple of days ago. The regime cannot easily supply its troops and bases in the north by road, since rebels control key points along the highway and can ambush convoys. If Damascus loses all the airports in the north, rebels will be able to starve out the troops, who will run low on ammunition and supplies.
The rebels are claiming major advances in the airport area, saying that they have taken virtually complete control of Base 80, which had been in charge protecting Aleppo International Airport.
As translated by the USG Open Source Center, al-Sharq al-Awsat reported on the fall on Tuesday of the Al-Jarrah Military Airport near Aleppo.
“The union of revolution coordination committees in Syria has affirmed that the Free Syrian Army (FSA) seized the Al-Jarrah Military Airport where fierce battles raged between the two sides that ended with the capture of a number of regular army personnel who were stationed at the airport on the Al-Riqqah-Aleppo road. The Syrian Human Rights Observatory pointed out that the FSA brigades took over the airport that houses military aircraft and arms. It said: “Combatants affiliated with the Islamic fighting brigades stormed the airport and succeeded in gaining total control over it. The fierce clashes raged since the morning of the day before yesterday (Monday)”. The observatory added: “The operation led to the death of five fighters; a number of others were wounded. About 40 elements of the regular forces were killed, wounded, and captured; ammunition and heavy machine guns were also seized”… This is the first operation of its kind in which the opposition succeeds in seizing Mig military planes since the revolution erupted in the middle of March 2011. The operation is part of a strategy adopted by the Syrian opposition to gain control over all the aircraft in the country to prevent the regime from using to bomb the liberated areas. According to Colonel Arif al-Humud, operations commander of the Syrian martyrs and brigades grouping, “the fall of the Al-Jarrah Airport will expand the area that the Syrian opposition controls in the eastern region. It also further weakens the morale of the regular forces that is already very weak in that region”.”
Because they lack fuel and air traffic control capabilities, the rebels cannot fly the captured Migs against the regime. They maintain that planes at the airport had been prepared to bombard civilian cities.
Amateur footage of the taking of the airport is visible in this video. As with all such video footage, its veracity cannot be independently verified by outsiders.
If these advances are borne out and can be maintained, the rebels appear to gradually be winning Aleppo and the north. It is not a good sign for the regime to have even small military airbases be falling into rebel hands. And the taking of Aleppo airport, if it can be accomplished, would be a major turning point in the revolution.
Meanwhile, Russia said Thursday that it will continue to supply the Baath regime in Damascus with weaponry.