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Syrian rebels attack military airports across country, opposition says

Story highlights

  • Syrian troops and rebels battle for control of a military airport in Idlib province
  • Planes from that airport have attacked the largely opposition-controlled area, dissident says
  • Armed forces and rebels fight for control of at least three other military airports across Syria
  • The regime says it has inflicted heavy losses on rebel fighters

In an attempt to weaken the Syrian government's air power, rebel fighters attacked several military airports across the country Sunday -- including a sprawling base in Idlib province, dissidents said.

"Fighter planes have caused many deaths, so we want to end any such thing as military air power," opposition activist Jehad al-Hamwwi told CNN.

The rebel Free Syrian Army devised a plan to attack the military airports and the regime's other strategic bases, said Zukan Hded, a dissident in Idlib province.

Syrian troops and rebels battled for control of Idlib's Abu al-Zhuhoor military airport, one of the few places in the opposition-dominated province from which government forces can still inflict damage, the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

"Fighter planes and helicopters are deployed from al-Zhuhoor airport to shell Idlib and nearby areas," Hded said. "Also, the airport distributes ammunition by helicopter to nearby military camps."

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    Meanwhile, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency said the Syrian army blocked an attempt by "terrorists" -- the government's blanket term for the opposition -- to storm the Minnegh airport in the Aleppo countryside.

    But dissidents disputed the report, which claimed the government controlled 60% of the airport Sunday, the opposition Aleppo Media Center said.

    At the Hama military airport, rebels from the Free Syrian Army traded Grad missiles for Syrian army mortars Sunday, the Hama Revolutionist Command Council said in a statement.

    Rebels also engaged in fierce clashes with Syrian troops and took control of two defense brigades near the Kwaires military airport Saturday, the Aleppo Media Center said.

    And in Daraa province, where the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's regime started, rebels acquired a weapons cache after fighters took full control of a strategic air force battalion Saturday, the opposition Local Coordination Committees of Syria said.

    But on the same day, Syrian forces shelled two villages in the Aleppo countryside from the Nyrab military airport, the Aleppo Media Center said.

    For its part, the government said Syrian armed forces inflicted heavy losses on rebel fighters in several hot spots across the war-torn country, SANA said.