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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Syria: Major Assad Regime Airbase Falls!

Menagh Military Airbase is an important Syrian Air Force base between Aleppo city and the Turkish border. It is home to the 4th Flying Training Squadron, equipped with MBB-223 and Mi-8 helicopters. It has also been a base for firing Scuds. It is primarily a helicopter base and it has played a big role in the air assaults that have pulverized Aleppo. For these reasons the Syrian opposition has been trying to take it for ten months.

Yesterday they finally took it!

Reuters is running this story:
Syrian rebels capture military airport near Turkey

AMMAN | Mon Aug 5, 2013 6:54pm EDT
Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Amman newsroom; Editing by Eric Beech
Syrian rebels captured a main military airport near the border with Turkey on Tuesday, consolidating their hold on a key supply route north of the city of Aleppo, opposition activists said.

The reported capture of the Minnig Military Airport, situated on the road between Aleppo and the Turkish city of Gaziantep, after an eight-month siege, marks an important symbolic victory for the opposition, following a string of defeats to President Bashar al-Assad's forces in central Syria, the sources said.

"The airport has been fully liberated. The remnants of the Assad gangs are now being chased," said a statement issued by nine brigades that took part in the operation, including the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and the hardline Islamist Tawhid Brigades.

Mohammad Nour, an activist with the Sham News Network, an opposition monitoring group, said the airport had mostly fallen to rebels in the last two months. He added that around 70 soldiers had been holding out in a small section containing the command headquarters, which was destroyed on Monday after a suicide bomber drove an armored personnel carrier into the building.

"Most of the remaining defenders were killed in the suicide attack. The remainder fled on three tanks, one of which the rebels destroyed," Nour said.

Assad's forces tried last month to prevent the fall of the airport by launching an armored offensive from Aleppo, backed by Hezbollah guerrillas based in two Shiite villages near the city, to drive the rebels from the northern rural region, according to opposition sources in the north. More...
Some will stay that we shouldn't celebrate a victory over the Assad regime at the hands of jhadists like the ISIS but I will kindly remind them why the audience cheered at the end of Jurassic Park when the T-Rex took out the raptors that were about to eat the family. Hint: It wasn't for the love of T-Rex. The thing to cheer about here is that Mengh airbase will no longer be taking out families no matter who took it out.

Video of the huge explosion that allowed the capture of Mengh airbase | 5 Aug 2013

Video shows moment of storming Mengh airbase | 5 Aug 2013

Kataeb al Baaz fighter giving Adhan from the top of the Control Tower | 5 Aug 2013

FSA head Colonel Aqidi visit liberated Mengh airbase | 6 Aug 2013

Aleppo Media Centre: Rebels looting few regime tanks at Menagh | 6 Aug 2013

We have this report from the Syrian Youths English facebook page:
Mengh confirmed statistics from Syrian side:

- 21 defenders have been killed in action, 15 of them who volunteered to stay behind in order to allow the rest of the personnel to escape safely.
- 5 defends have been captured.
- 0 operational equipment remains in Mengh air base.

The withdrawal of the men was secured by preemptive air strikes on nearby towns that support terror, specifically near gathering areas of Jihadists.

Via: Syrian Air Force
EAWorldView voices important cautions in their report:
Insurgents Capture Menagh Airbase near Aleppo
A good week for the insurgents on the military front — countering the regime’s offensive in Homs — continued on Monday.

Following the launch of an offensive taking territory and offering a symbolic show of power in northern Lattakia Province in western Syria, opposition fighters may have claimed a bigger prize: Menagh Airbase, one of the regime’s last significant positions in Aleppo Province.

We offer an analysis, “Assessing the Fall of Mennegh Airbase“, which notes the importance of the capture, if confirmed. President Assad’s are increasingly constricted in northern Syria, finding it more difficult to move personnel and supplies, and the insurgency’s siege of the biggest prize — Aleppo, Syria’s biggest city locked in military stalemate for 13 months — is tightening.

At the same time, the news offers two cautions: 1) the victory, due to certain brigades and not others, points to multiple and sometimes conflicting “insurgencies”; and 2) the regime still has a lot of power to inflict damage on both fighters and civilians throughout the north, as Monday’s footage of shelling in Idlib Province testified.

And while the insurgency claimed further advance in its Lattakia offensive, saying that it took two villages on Tuesday, the Syrian military also has its own victories to parade: reports on Tuesday — as the Minister of Defense walked through the recently-recaptured Khalidiya section of Homs — indicated that the regime may have taken the al-Wa’er area of the city.

Back on 24 Jan 2013, Richard Hall, writing in The Independent, described Mengh's importance this way:
The rebels hold a large swathe of territory reaching to the north and west of Aleppo, as far as the Turkish border, but they have been unable to capture a number of these bases in their heartland. These islands of military power, surrounded by rebel forces, are vital to the government. It is from the Menagh base that helicopters take off to bomb rebel fighters on the ground in Aleppo and attack civilians queuing in bread lines in northern towns.
Now that the base has fallen, it will be interesting to see if The Independent still thinks it 'vital' to the Assad regime. That January The Independent article ends this way:
The house we stayed in that night was only a few miles from Menagh. The thud of artillery fire carried on throughout the night and jets roared overhead as they repelled rebel attacks. It was clearly not for lack of trying that the base is still in government hands.

That fight is continuing today. According to the rebels, a “final battle” is currently underway to take Menagh.

"Once it has been captured, the north will be liberated,” Abu Marwan, the young commander of the rebel Northern Storm brigade, told CNN this week.

Some analysts (and many rebel fighters) claim that Assad is on his last legs, and that the war will soon be at an end. But the rebels’ inability to force the Syrian army out of these bases in “liberated” areas suggests that there are limits to their strength.

If they do win this “final battle,” Assad’s ability to strike at will in the north will be severely weakened. But if they cannot take The Fortress at Menagh, how can they expect to take Damascus, the biggest fortress of all?
It will be interesting to see how they report on this important victory for the revolution now.

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