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Middle East

Rebels 'seize Syrian army school' in Aleppo

Opposition fighters say they have stormed base outside strategic northern city after nearly three weeks of fighting.
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2012 06:51
Damascus province is key battlefield as regime battles to retake control of an 8km belt around the capital [AFP]

Syrian opposition fighters say they have taken control of an army infantry school in the suburbs of Aleppo, after more than 20 days of fighting with government forces.

The school is located in the strategic Msalamiyyah town near the main road that connects Aleppo city with its northern suburbs.

"The school was a military base for the regime. Tanks stationed there used to shell nearby towns in Aleppo," an opposition activist told Al Jazeera on Saturday.

The school, which has a 3km-square campus, is around 10km away from the centre of Aleppo, Syria's second city.

Rebels have taken over several military installations across the country over the past few months.

Sunday's reported takeover came amid reports of fighting around the air force intelligence branch in the Zahraa district of Aleppo city and around Mingh military airport in the outskirts of Aleppo.

Key battlefield

Meanwhile, near Damascus, activists said that fierce fighting was taking place on Saturday in the town of Daraya, as the army sent in reinforcements and tried to storm the town.

"This is the 28th day the criminal [President Bahsar] al-Assad forces have attempted to break into the town," read a statement from activists in Daraya.

Air and artillery bombardments have focused on Daraya and the nearby town of Mudamiyeh in recent weeks, raising fears of a major ground assault.

“Daraya remains isolated from the outside world due to a communications and power cut for the past 37 days. With ongoing fuel cuts, there is an urgent need for supplies to be restored as winter sets in," they said.

Daraya was the scene in August of the single worst massacre in Syria's conflict, where hundreds were reported killed.

Clashes also erupted in the Palestinian camp of Yarmuk in the south of the capital on Saturday between rebels and troops backed by pro-regime Palestinian fighters, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The towns of of Harasta, Erbeen and al-Zabani, in the outskirts of the capital, have witnessed heavy bombardment by government forces, activists said on Saturday

Damascus province is now a key battlefield, as regime forces battle to retake control of an 8km belt around the capital.

And in the southern province of Daraa, rebels and troops clashed in the towns of Sheikh Maskin and  Izraa, as villages and towns came under army shelling.

More than 40,000 people have been killed since the uprising against  Assad's rule erupted in March 2011.

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