Tue Feb 12, 2013, 06:29 PM
pampango (18,330 posts)
Syrian Rebels Claim to Have Seized Military Airfield and Warplanes
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Syrian insurgents seized control of a northern military airfield on Tuesday and captured usable warplanes for the first time in the nearly two-year-old conflict, according to rebels and activist groups. The development, if confirmed, would represent the second strategic setback for President Bashar al-Assad’s government this week.
The reported seizure of Al Jarrah airfield in Aleppo Province, which was corroborated by rebel video clips uploaded on the Internet, came a day after insurgent fighters announced that they had taken control of Syria’s largest hydroelectric dam, which supplies power to areas held by Mr. Assad’s security forces and by the insurgent Free Syrian Army and affiliated rebel groups. Whoever controls that dam, situated on the Euphrates River in northeast Raqqa Province, theoretically has the ability to deny electric power to significant areas held by the other side.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an anti-Assad group based in Britain with a network of contacts inside Syria, said the Syrian Air Force had responded to the Jarrah seizure by bombarding it, presumably to destroy or incapacitate the planes there. The observatory said in a Facebook post that the rebels had “taken control of tens of military jets,” mostly Soviet-era MIG-17s and Sukhoi L-39 jet fighters. “This is considered the first instance of rebels acquiring fighter jets,” the group said.
Earlier instances of rebel seizures of military airfields have been met with ferocious reprisal bombings by Mr. Assad’s military, which would rather destroy the planes and other weaponry than lose them to the rebles. Syrian forces also have fired Scud missiles at suspected insurgent positions, according to opposition activists and Western intelligence officials. But the Scuds, not known for their precision, have hit civilians as well. The Local Coordination Committees, a network of anti-Assad groups, reported on Tuesday that three Scuds had landed in Barouda, a small village in Raqqa Province, destroying at least one house.
Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/13/world/middleeast/syrian-rebels-claim-to-have-seized-military-airfield-and-warplanes.html
I don't know any pilots have defected so these planes may be useless or have already been destroyed in air raids since the capture of the airfield.
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