Syrian rebels capture air base, destroy choppers
Syrian rebels captured a helicopter base just outside Damascus on Sunday in what an activist called a “blow to the morale of the regime” near President Bashar Assad’s seat of power.This is a good strategic move. Assad does not have adequate force to protect his bases, and the rebels do not have the means to hit the aircraft while flying. Hitting them on the ground makes a lot of sense. It is a strategy I suggested recently. If Assad loses his planes he is pretty much finished.
The takeover claim showed how rebels are advancing in the area of the capital, though they are badly outgunned, making inroads where Mr. Assad’s power was once unchallenged. Rebels also have been able to fire mortar rounds into Damascus recently.
The director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdul-Rahman, said rebels seized control of the Marj al-Sultan base on the outskirts of Damascus on Sunday morning. He said at least 15 rebels and eight soldiers were killed in the fighting, which started a day earlier. The rebels later withdrew from the base.
Rebels appear to be trying to take over air bases and destroy aircraft in order to prevent the regime from using them in attacks against opposition forces around the country.