Syrian rebels storm base defending Aleppo airport

Associated Press
View photos
Citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows smoke rises from Aleppo International Airport, Syria, Tuesday Feb. 12, 2013. Rebels captured a military air base in northern Syria on Tuesday, handing opposition fighters their second strategic victory in their nearly two-year battle against President Bashar Assad in as many days, activists said. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center AMC)

BEIRUT (AP) — Activists say rebels have stormed a base that is in charge of protecting the international airport in the contested northern city of Aleppo, leaving dozens dead.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Aleppo Media Center say opposition fighters captured large parts of the "Brigade 80" base near the city's main civilian airport. The Observatory said there were "tens" of casualties.

The airport itself remains in regime hands.

Rebels have been attacking Aleppo's civilian airport for weeks, and now appear to have removed the main defenses around the facility.

The assault follows a string of other recent gains on the battlefield.

Earlier Tuesday, rebels captured a small military air base southwest of Aleppo. On Monday, they took over the country's largest hydroelectric dam in neighboring Raqqa province.