BEIRUT

Middle East

Syria rebels advance towards key airport in Hama

Rebel fighters prepare to fire a weapon towards forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar Assad in the town of Morek in Hama province July 20, 2014. (REUTERS/Badi Khlif)

BEIRU: Syrian rebels pressed on with a fresh advance in the central province of Hama, as they bid to take out its military airport, a rebel commander and an activist group said Tuesday.

"The rebels are now nine kilometers away from Hama military airport, which they want to put out of action," said Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel-Rahman.

A rebel leader in the area, who gave his name as Hassan, said Hama military airport was important because "that is where the regime makes its barrel bombs, and warplanes take off from there to carry out airstrikes on (opposition-held) areas across Syria."

Barrel bombs have killed hundreds of civilians, especially in rebel areas of the divided northern city of Aleppo, in recent months.

According to the Observatory, rebels and their Al-Qaeda ally, the Nusra Front, took over a major checkpoint north of Hama city, which is firmly under regime control, Monday night.

The takeover of the checkpoint at Tarabih comes on the back of Sunday's capture of a weapons depot in the area.

"The regime has suffered several defeats in Hama province in recent days," said Abdel-Rahman.

As they have advanced, rebels have cut off the road linking Hama city, the provincial capital, to a string of regime-controlled Christian and Alawite villages in the west of the province, he added.

According to Hassan, the regime is sending reinforcements.

"They are stepping up their troop presence here, which will limit the regime's capabilities in other areas, such as Aleppo," said the rebel commander, who spoke to AFP via the Internet.

As for the military airport: "We are already striking it with Grad missiles," said Hassan.

The air force has used deadly barrel bombs, which are being manufactured in Hama military airport, to strike opposition-controlled areas across Syria for many months.

In Aleppo alone, airstrikes including barrel bomb attacks have since December killed hundreds of civilians including children, and forced thousands of families to flee, as the regime has unleashed a massive aerial offensive there.

Rights groups have hit out at the regime for its use of barrel bombs, which they describe as failing to discriminate betweeen civilian and military targets.

Syria's war has killed more than 170,000 people and forced nearly half the population to flee their homes.

 

Recommended

Advertisement

Comments

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

Alert: If you are facing problems with posting comments, please note that you must verify your email with Disqus prior to posting a comment. follow this link to make sure your account meets the requirements. (http://bit.ly/vDisqus)

comments powered by Disqus
Summary

Syrian rebels pressed on with a fresh advance in the central province of Hama, as they bid to take out its military airport, a rebel commander and an activist group said Tuesday.

Barrel bombs have killed hundreds of civilians, especially in rebel areas of the divided northern city of Aleppo, in recent months.

According to the Observatory, rebels and their Al-Qaeda ally, the Nusra Front, took over a major checkpoint north of Hama city, which is firmly under regime control, Monday night.

The air force has used deadly barrel bombs, which are being manufactured in Hama military airport, to strike opposition-controlled areas across Syria for many months.


Advertisement

FOLLOW THIS ARTICLE

Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here