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Rebels capture airport near Aleppo, seize Syrian MiG fighter-jets

Special to WorldTribune.com

NICOSIA — For the first time, Sunni rebels have captured Syrian Air
Force fighter-jets.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebels seized a military
airport in the northern province of Aleppo. In a statement on Feb. 12, the
London-based opposition group said the rebels also captured MiG fighter-jets
stations at the airport in Jarrah.

a Syrian fighter jet in a hangar after rebels captured Jarrah airfield in Aleppo province, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013. Rebels captured a military air base in northern Syria on Tuesday, their second major strategic victory in as many days, activists said.  /Ugarit News via AP video

A Syrian fighter jet is seen in a hangar after rebels captured Jarrah airfield in Aleppo province on Feb. 12. /Ugarit News via AP video

“The rebels seized dozens of fighter-jets, most of them MiG-17s, and
others that included the Sukhoi and L-39,” Syrian Observatory said.

Western analysts said the statement appeared to refer to the Mi-17
utility helicopter, also used in strikes on rebel strongholds. The L-39 is a trainer and light attack aircraft supplied by the Czech Republic.

A rebel video statement showed two MiG fighters at Jarrah, located 60
kilometers east of Aleppo. The statement said an Islamist militia, Ahrar Al Sham, captured the base, which contained scores of inoperable aircraft.

Opposition sources said rebels have been trying for more than a year to
capture Syrian fighter-jets, particularly the MiG-21. They said the MiGs
played a major role in bombing missions of rebel strongholds in northern and central Syria.

Syrian Observatory said the rebels captured or killed 40 Syrian Air
Force personnel at Jarrah. The group said a large amount of ammunition was
also found in the base.

The rebels said several battalions attacked Aleppo International Airport
and the Nayrab military airport on early Feb. 12. They said the rebels were
focusing on capturing the bases to stop the daily air strikes by the regime
of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

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