Battles renew at Taftanas airbase in Syria's Idlib

Updated: 2013-01-11 01:44:00

(Xinhua)

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DAMASCUS, January 10 (Xinhua) -- Battles have renewed at the Taftanas military airport in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib between Syrian troops and members of al-Qaida-linked al- Nusra Front, media reports and activists said Thursday.

The pro-government Sama TV said guarding troops at the airport repulsed that attack of armed groups that had tried to storm the airport, adding that hefty losses were inflicted upon the assailants.

It said many gunmen were killed while others fled the area, quoting "trustworthy" source as affirming that the airport is empty of war jets and gears.

Another pro-government news website said the Taftanas airport is "100 percent secured," adding that the "army martyears and wounded arrived to al-Bassel airport in the coastal city of Latakia on board a helicopter that took off from Taftanas."

Earlier in the day, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based pro-opposition group, said that Syrian jets had bombed Taftanaz airbase after it was stormed by Islamist rebels on Wednesday.

It said violent clashes continued inside the airport between the rebels and the regular troops, alleging that there were 20 helicopters in the airport; some of them were damaged due to the clashes while others were grounded because of malfunctions.

It said the rebels had taken over an arms depot inside the airport and also captured 13 soldiers, including one officer. But the activists' account could not be checked independently.

Armed rebels have previously attacked the Hamadan agricultural airport, in the eastern al-Bukamal city, and the Marj al-Sultan military airport on the outskirts of the capital Damascus that was only used for landing and fixing aircraft.