After a two month siege, the Taftanaz military air base in Idlib province, the largest military air base in Syria, has fallen to Assad's opposition.
This base has been the source of a relentless campaign of "Death from Above" waged by the Assad regime using Mig jets and attack helicopters against all the surrounding communities.
The siege was successful when Islamist fighting groups, including al Nursa joined the fight the Free Syrian Army has been waging for two months. The Islamist brought with them heavy weapons the FSA didn't have.
They capture a very large supply of all sorts of weapons at Taftanaz.
Many of the aircrafts have been captured intact so soon there may actually be a rebel air force. Many pilots have defected.
Earlier I wrote about the Syrian refugees. This is the best news they have heard in a while. It won't be safe for them to go home until Assad's air force is destroyed.
This international refugee crisis comes as a result of the world powers' refusal either to protect the Syrian people with a no-fly zone or allow them heavy weapons to neutralize Assad's air power. As a result, 600,000 Syrians have had to cross a border just to find shelter from the bombs.
Sometime ago the Free Syrian Army adopted the strategy of fighting Assad's air campaign by going after his air bases. Now that is starting to succeed. In Aleppo they have stepped up their campaign against Mannagh air base and Allepo airport in the light to this Victory!
AP is reporting:
Syrian rebels seize key air base, activists say
By BASSEM MROUE
Jan. 11 4:46 PM EST
BEIRUT (AP) Syrian rebels and Islamic militants overran a major military air base in the north Friday and, buoyed by the victory, intensified their offensive on two other bases in their most aggressive campaign yet to erode the air supremacy on which the regime of President Bashar Assad has increasingly relied the past year.
The rebels control the ground in large parts of the north, but they have been unable to solidify their grip because they - and civilians in rebel-held regions - come under withering strikes from aircraft stationed at a number of military bases in the area.
The Taftanaz air base in Idlib province is the largest air base yet to be captured by the rebels. It is the biggest field in the north for helicopters the military uses both for strikes on rebels and for delivering supplies to government troops still in the north to avoid the danger of rebel attacks on the roads.
Shortly after they captured the Taftanaz field, rebels in the neighboring province of Aleppo intensified their assault on the Mannagh air base and the international airport of the city of Aleppo, which includes a military base. Rebels have been trying to capture the two sites since last week, along with a third airfield known as Kweires. More...
Brown Moses comments:
@ 7:00 This damaged Hip helicopter has rocket pods that appear to be loaded with rockets and ready to go
@ 11:13 S5 rockets waiting to be loaded onto a helicopter, now more likely to be fired from a truck
@ 14:27 The tail unit of an RBK cluster bomb, suggests they cluster bombed their own air base
@ 16:19 A badly damaged hind armed with a cannon pod and OFAB bomb
@ 16:47 A brief shot of several OFAB bombs waiting to be loaded
Brown Moses has Highlights From The Video Tour Of Taftanaz Air Base on his blog.
10:18 PM PT: