Syrian Rebels Seize Parts of Highway Linking Damascus, Aleppo

Syrian Rebels Seize Parts of Highway Linking Damascus, Aleppo
Syrian rebels listen to their trainer during a training session in Maaret Ikhwan, near Idlib, Syria, on Dec. 17, 2012. Photographer: Muhammed Muheisen/AP Photo

Syrian rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad seized a section of the highway linking the country’s north and south, severing the supply route between the nation’s two biggest cities.

The Free Syrian Army seized the strategic highway, which runs from Damascus to the northern city of Aleppo, yesterday, according to opposition activist websites. The thoroughfare also serves as a branching off point for most of the country’s other major cities.

Assad has been fighting an uprising since March 2011 that’s killed about 44,000 people, according to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The opposition has made gains against Assad’s forces and controls mainly Sunni Muslim areas stretching from the northeastern outskirts of the capital to areas in the southwest.

Fighting killed at least 128 people yesterday, including 42 in Damascus and its suburbs, the opposition Local Coordination Committees said in an e-mailed statement.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius have said during the past week that Assad’s days may be numbered.

Syria’s civil war is destined for stalemate, with neither the rebels nor the military able to prevail in the conflict, Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa told Al-Akhbar newspaper. His comments were posted on its English-language website on Dec. 16.