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Middle east

Damascus, Aleppo airports to be in rebel line of fire

©

Text by Marc DAOU

Latest update : 2012-09-05

The Free Syrian Army, trying desperately to counter the regime’s control of the country’s air space, has announced that the airports of Damascus and Aleppo will be considered legitimate targets as of September 10.

The Free Syrian Army is threatening to counter the military’s control of Syria’s airspace by threatening to attack the country’s two main airports, in Damascus and Aleppo. The rebels accuse President Bashar al-Assad’s regime of using the airports for military

More than 100,000 Syrians fled country in August

More than 100,000 Syrians fled their country in August, the highest monthly total since the crisis began in March 2011, the U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday.
That exodus sharply increased the number of Syrians now living in neighboring countries, bringing the total number of refugees to 234,368 in the past 17 months, the agency said.

Along with activists’ reports that the death toll in August was also the highest in the civil war with 5,000 killed, all signs are pointing to unprecedented levels of misery in a country where President Bashar Assad’s regime is fighting an increasingly violent rebellion.

Source: AP

activities. The ultimatum was made late last week by the Free Syrian Army, which advised airlines to cancel flights to these two cities. The rebels have said the ultimatum would go into effect September 10 at midnight.

‘Legitimate military targets’

"The airports of Damas and Aleppo will be considered legitimate military targets as of September 10," declared Bassam el-Dada, political advisor to the Free Syrian Army, on France 24’s Arabic channel. Speaking from Ankara, Turkey, by telephone, he accused the Syrian regime of having "transformed these airports into military platforms that serve to transport troops and refill arms and ammunition via Syrian, Iranian and Russian civilian airplanes.”

A document held by the Free Syrian Army, cited in an article published August 31 in Saudi daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat, stated that the Syrian military was forced to use the country’s civilian airports "after several rebel attacks seriously harmed military airports". Throughout the month of August, rebels indeed stepped up attacks against Syrian military airports, striking the base of Bukamal in the east, the military airport of Hamdane near the Iraqi border, and those of Taftanaz and Abu el-Zouhour in the northwest. Though the Free Syrian Army has said it destroyed several aircrafts, it has also recognised that it was not able to put a stop to air strikes.

Open War

"We are in an open war against the regime. We owe it to ourselves to respond to their air strikes, which target our people," explained Bassam el-Dada on France 24. He

No-fly zone extended

added: "If we were irresponsible, we would not have warned the civilian airlines. The responsibility for what happens now is back in the hands of the illegitimate regime of Syria, as well as its Russian allies."

Russia’s foreign ministry on September 4 released a statement asserting that attacking civilian airports was a “red line” that should not be crossed, and that the rebels and their supporters would be held responsible for their acts.

"The Russians should be ashamed of establishing ‘red lines’ for a people that is being massacred," el-Dada retorted.

Date created : 2012-09-04

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