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Rebels seize airport as Syria dead nears 70,000

Published on Feb 13, 2013 5:59 AM
A Free Syrian Army fighter protects his ears as others fire anti-aircraft artillery during an air strike by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, during clashes near Aleppo international airport, Feb 12, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

DAMASCUS (AFP) - Rebels on Tuesday overran a military air base and captured warplanes, gaining ground in northern Syria for a second straight day as the UN said the death toll from the 23-month conflict was nearly 70,000.

The military advance came as prospects for a political solution to the war faded and as United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki Moon urged President Bashar al-Assad's regime to accept an opposition leader's dialogue offer.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the rebels captured a military airport at Al-Jarrah in Aleppo province, seizing for the first time a fleet of warplanes including MiG fighters.

During the assault, the rebels killed, injured or imprisoned dozens of troops, the watchdog said, adding withdrawing troops also left behind ammunition.

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