Syria rebels make Aleppo gains

Arab World Materials 11 December 2012 15:16 (UTC +04:00)

Syrian rebels have taken full control of a sprawling military base that they stormed two days ago in the country's north, killing at least 35 government troops in the fighting, anti-government activists say, aljazeera reported.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said the battle for Sheik Suleiman base, near the city of Aleppo, ended on Tuesday after rebels took over the main compound and warehouses at the site.

The rebels first entered the base on Sunday afternoon, after weeks of fighting with soldiers loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

The SOHR, an anti-government rights watchdog, said that 64 government troops were also injured in the assault.

Among the groups that seized the base was the al-Nusra Front, which the US government is due to blacklist as a "terrorist organisation," documents released on Tuesday showed. The US says that al-Nusra is allied to al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Also on Tuesday, rebel troops attempted to wrest control of a military infantry academy near the northern entrance of Aleppo from government forces.

The military school, located close to the town of Muslimiyeh near the Hanadarat Palestinian refugee camp, houses approximately 3,000 soldiers, the SOHR said.

Fierce clashes have raged since rebels encircled the academy just over two weeks ago.

The Observatory also said that 11 people were killed elsewhere in the province, including three children and two women, on Monday night when four mortars struck the Sheikh Maksoud district of the city of Aleppo.

Another 13 people were wounded, some critically, in the bombardment on the largely Kurdish neighbourhood.

The mortars were fired by rebels from the Bustan al-Basha district, according to activists.

In Damascus, the army shelled southern districts of the city while security forces raided several areas of the nearby Midan district, the Observatory said.

Further south of the capital, two men were killed in bombing on the town of Daraya, where rebels have been resisting a military onslaught since mid-summer, while shelling was also reported across the eastern outskirts of the city.

The Local Co-ordination Committees, a network of activists on the ground, meanwhile, reported that fierce government shelling was targeting southern areas of Damascus.

Fighting was also reported on Tuesday in the cities of Jisr Al Shughur, Arbeen and Deir Az Zor.

The latest UNHCR figures, released on Tuesday, showed that more than 500,000 Syrians have fled their country for other areas in the region.

"According to UNHCR's latest figures for Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and North Africa, 509,559 Syrians are either already registered (425,160) or in the process of being registered," UNHCR said in a statement issued in Geneva.

The number of registered Syrian refugees region-wide rose by about 3,200 per day in November, and close to 1,000 Syrians crossed into Jordan during the past two nights alone, it said.

Lebanon is now host to 154,387 registered Syrian refugees who have fled the 20-month-old conflict, Jordan has 142,664, Turkey 136,319, Iraq 65,449 and North Africa 11,740, the statement said.

In addition, large numbers of Syrians have crossed into neighbouring countries but have not yet come forward to register for refugee status and assistance, it said.