Syrian rebels capture northern air base
BEIRUT (AP) - Syrian rebels captured a major air base in the north of the country on Tuesday after months of fighting, depriving President Bashar Assad's forces of one of their main posts near the border with Turkey, activists said.
But state television denied that the base had fully fallen.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Mannagh helicopter base fell nearly 24 hours after rebels, led by Al-Qaeda-linked militants, launched an all-out offensive against it. The Aleppo Media Centre said rebels finally captured it before dawn. Videos purportedly from the battlefield showed rebels inspecting captured helicopters.
But Syria's state television said troops are still defending the air base, adding that rebels "suffered very large losses around and inside the airport." Quoting an unnamed Information Ministry official, the report said "the heroes of our armed forces at Mannagh air base and nearby areas are confronting terrorists with great courage."