Syrian Rebels Fight for Key Military Airport in North

Facility located near road linking capital Damascus with Aleppo, the country's largest city.

Men react as they carry a body said to have been killed by Syrian army shelling.
Men react as they carry a body of a person, whom activists said was killed by shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar Assad, at al-Ansari in Aleppo. Reuters

Syrian rebels on Thursday fought to capture a key military airport in the north used by President Basher Assad's air force to bombard their posts, an opposition group said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported fierce clashes in the vicinity of the Taftanaz military airport near the northern province of Idlib.

Rebel fighters, mainly from the al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham Islamist groups, briefly broke into the airport and stormed its command before being repulsed by government forces, the observatory said.

The airport is used by al-Assad's forces to bombard opposition strongholds in the north where rebels have made significant gains in recent months.

The facility is located near a road linking the Syrian capital Damascus and Aleppo, the country's biggest city close to the border with Turkey.

The United Nations said on Wednesday that the death toll had reached 60,000, the highest estimate in the 21-month crisis. It said the real figure could be higher.

Violence in the southern province of Daraa forced more refugees to flee into neighboring Jordan, UN relief officials said.

Around 4,000 Syrians have crossed into Jordan since Tuesday, the single highest number of new arrivals in a three-day period, they added.

Jordan currently hosts 285,000 Syrian refugees, over half the estimated 550,000 Syrians displaced since the outbreak of the conflict in March 2011.