Earlier this month, the Observatory said rebels had seized another smaller dam in Raqqa province, the Baath dam, named after Syria’s ruling party. In November, Syrian opposition fighters captured the Tishrin hydroelectric dam near the town of Manbij in northern Aleppo province, which borders Raqqa.
Rebels also stormed a second base on Tuesday.
The Observatory and the Aleppo Media Center said opposition fighters captured large parts of the “Brigade 80” base near the city’s main civilian airport.
The rebels were also attacking another major air base, Nairab, adjacent to the international airport and took control of the al-Manara army checkpoint just outside it, the Observatory and AMC said.
The Observatory said there were dozens of casualties, adding that Syrian warplanes bombarded areas around the airport after the rebels advance.
Reporting from Aleppo, Syrian state TV correspondent Shadi Halawi said the city’s international airport was “100 percent safe,” although he acknowledged that rebels were able to enter the “Brigade 80” base. Government troops were pushing them out, he said.
Rebels control many areas in the north and east of the country and hold whole neighborhoods in Aleppo, Syria’s largest urban center and its main commercial hub. The government maintains a tight grip on Damascus and several central provinces, including Homs and Hama.
For nearly a week, rebels have been trying to slowly battle their way into the capital, Damascus, from neighborhoods and towns on its doorstep and have punched to within a mile of the heart of the city.
There was more fighting in the capital on Tuesday. Activists said government warplanes struck opposition strongholds in several suburbs, including Zamalka and Douma.
In a rare attack, a mortar round fell outside the Homs oil refinery, killing an employee and wounding three. In addition to Homs, Syria has another oil refinery in the coastal city of Banias.
Even as the fighting intensifies, the opposition and the government are saying they are ready for a dialogue that they hope would end the crisis.
Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi was quoted by Syrian TV as saying that “the fate and future of Syrians should be decided in Damascus and by the Syrians themselves.”
He was apparently responding to calls by opposition leader Mouaz al-Khatib, who said he is ready for talks with the regime in Syria as long as it is held in rebel-held territories. Mr. Al-Khatib also demanded that authorities release 160,000 detainees and renew the passports of dissidents living abroad.
National Reconciliation Minister Ali Haider told reporters in Damascus that the government has fulfilled a package of measures to renew the passports of Syrians abroad and they have been put in force.
Also Tuesday, Mr. Assad attended the first meeting of the Syrian Cabinet after a minor government reshuffle two days ago. He said in comments carried on the presidency’s Facebook page that the world now recognizes how steadfast his regime really is.View Entire Story
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