Islamist Rebels Seize Key North Syria Army Base

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Rebels led by the radical Islamist group Al-Nusra Front seized a strategic army base in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo on Monday after weeks of fierce fighting, a watchdog said.

It was the last major military base west of Aleppo remaining under army control.

"Al-Nusra Front, alongside several Islamist rebel battalions linked to it, have seized control of the army base headquarters at Sheikh Suleiman," Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman told Agence France Presse.

Base 111, with its headquarters in the village of Sheikh Suleiman, sprawls over nearly 200 hectares (500 acres) of rocky hills about 25 kilometers (15 miles) from Aleppo city.

"It is a significant win for the rebels. It proves the army is still suffering major military losses," said Abdel Rahman, adding that the rebels seized up to 10 military vehicles and at least one tank.

Several other rebel groups claimed responsibility for the capture.

"We the battalion of Ahrar Daret Ezza (Free Men of Daret Ezza) of the Free Syrian Army, with the help of other rebel brigades, have freed Base 111," said a rebel spokesman, in to a video statement posted online.

But Abdel Rahman insisted Al-Nusra and its allies were behind the capture.

"The mainstream Free Syrian Army may want to claim this victory -- but it is not theirs. It is Al-Nusra Front's and groups linked to it," he said.

According to an AFP journalist who covered the clashes around Sheikh Suleiman, many of the fighters were foreigners from other Arab countries and Central Asia who have joined the insurgency against President Bashar Assad's forces.

Abu Talha, a rebel chief in the area, is from Uzbekistan.

Another video posted online showed Muhajireen battalion fighters linked to Al-Nusra standing before black flags and reciting the Muslim profession faith inside the abandoned base.

Comments 5
Thumb jcamerican 10 December 2012, 12:05

Cannot wait to hear that they are starting to fight each other for the loots.

Default-user-icon MUSTAPHA O. GHALAYINI (Guest) 10 December 2012, 14:04

somalia ,afgahanistan style will be the next neighbour of israel,lebanon,jordan enjoy the new middle east.....more popcorn plse.

Thumb JabalElFersan 10 December 2012, 14:30

And the infighting begins. Once FSA main objective is achieved being Assad there will be divisions within their ranks and a major strugle for power. To date there has been no succession plan that represents the minorities of Syria, look at what happened and continues to happen to the Akbot in Egypt.

Missing gabby10 10 December 2012, 16:48 always seem to forget that we don't want to live under the domination of Persia anymore. Persia, ASSad, and Hezz are choking us and we are sick of it. I don't care who trained who. ASSad has murdered too many M14 and has has thousands of Lebanese in prison for decades.

The Hezz will pay dearly for their alliance in the war. Their side just lost a major base and are losing the war.

Missing peace 10 December 2012, 22:45

enjoying the posts as if we were at the counter of a bar listening to experts who know everything and are so sure of themselves...
don t let assad go! syria will become afghanistan! syria will be ruled by evil islamists! let the dictator kill people as he wishes as it ll be worse after!
lol! where did you buy your crystal ball to be so sure of the future? lol!