Rebel fighters from two Islamist brigades took control of a key Syrian military air base on Saturday.
The base is located close to the strategically important southern international highway – an important supply route into the capital Damascus. For many months there has little progress for either side in the battle for Damascus, as rebels and government forces slug it out in a long war of attrition. Increasingly it seems as if the fate of Damascus may be decided by events outside the capital itself – and controlling supply routes is a key part of this.
Fighters from Nusra Front.
The Syrian army’s 38th division air defence base was overrun by rebel fighters from al Nusra Front and the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade on Saturday, after more than two weeks of fighting. Al Nusra Front was founded by leaders of Al Qaeda in Iraq, and is suspected of retaining close links to Al Qaeda. It has been designated as a terrorist group by the United States and is composed primarily of foreign jihadists from around the world. The power and reputation of Al Nusra Front has grown steadily throughout the civil war in Syria, and it is now arguably the most powerful rebel brigade fighting against the government of Bashar al Assad.
Since the beginning of the civil war Assad’s government has characterized the rebels as foreign terrorists, whereas western governments have generally viewed them as freedom fighters trying to topple an oppressive ‘regime’ (in journalism speak, btw, ’regime’ means any government the writer thinks, or has been told to think, should be toppled)….