Beirut, Oct 8:
Islamist rebels Wednesday seized areas near an important barracks of the Syrian army on the outskirts of the northern city of Aleppo, at the start of an offensive to control a key military base, rebel sources said.
The Islamic Front, the main Islamic armed alliance in Syria, said on its Twitter account that its fighters took the villages of Qashuta, al-Barzaniya and Diman, as well as agricultural areas in al-Tahtaniya and al-Fuqaniya after heavy clashes with Syrian forces.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the news and said there was also fighting between both sides near the town of al-Adnaniya, gateway to the military base which is the takeoff site for helicopters used by government forces to drop barrel bombs in the region.
The rebel offensive is led by the Islamic movement of Ahrar al-Sham (Free Men of the Levant), one of the main groups in the Islamic Front.
In a video released on Youtube, Ahrar al-Sham announced the beginning of the offensive to seize the military base and paralyse the helicopter attacks on Aleppo, Idleb and Hama provinces.
The base, located in the southeast of Aleppo, was targeted in July 2012 by the rebels, who seized part of the city.
The eastern part of Aleppo is in the hands of the rebels, while the west is still under control of the Syrian regime