Syrian Rebels Clash With Troops Inside Military Airbase

Clashes erupted between government troops and Syrian rebels, including an Islamist group branded a terrorist organization by the U.S., inside a military airfield in the northern region of Idlib, an opposition group said.

The rebels took over more than half the Taftanaz airbase, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in an e-mailed statement today. The fighting is taking place around the facility’s main buildings and weapons depot, it said.

The U.K.-based opposition group said Jabhat al-Nusra, designated a terrorist group by the U.S. last year because of ties to al-Qaeda, joined the attack.

Syria’s rebels have been trying to take the airbase since Jan. 2. The effort aims to undermine the government’s air power, which has hampered the opposition’s ability to advance against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

More than 60,000 people have been killed in violence that has pitted the mainly Sunni Muslim opposition against Assad’s Alawite-dominated security forces since March 2011, according to recent United Nations estimates. At least 92 people were killed across Syria yesterday, including 29 in Damascus and its suburbs, the activist Local Coordination Committees said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Donna Abu-Nasr in Beirut at dabunasr@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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