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Middle east

Syrian air force launches 'failed attack' on rebel command base

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2012-11-26

Syrian warplanes launched an attack on a rebel command centre in the northwest of the country near the Turkish border on Monday but failed to cause any damage, activists reported.

Syrian war planes attacked a rebel headquarters near the Turkish border on Monday but appeared to miss their target, opposition activists in the region said.

“The (Free Syrian Army) joint command is located in a school. It seems they have missed it. There were two jets - one of them looked like a reconnaissance aircraft. They had been flying over the area for an hour,” activist Mohammad Abdallah said.

They said a Turkish fighter was scrambled to the area. There was no immediate comment from Turkish authorities about the incident, which occurred in Atima village in hilly farmland across the border from Turkey’s Hatay province.

Rebels fired anti-aircraft guns at the jets but they were flying too high to be hit, they said.

Turkey has requested that NATO surface-to-air missiles be stationed on its side of the border, angering Syria, but said on Monday they would only be used to protect Turkish territory and not to establish a no-fly zone.

Syrian jets have previously bombed rebel targets along the frontier but Monday’s strike was one of the closest to the border, just two km (1.5 miles) from a Turkish gendarme compound and near a crossing point for Syrian refugees.

Another activist described how the planes were circling the area when they struck. The sound of what appeared to be rockets and explosions could be heard over the phone.

“They fired three rockets. It looks like that they hit nearby buildings. There are no reported casualties. It seems that the Free Syrian Army was expecting the air strike and had evacuated the area,” he said.

Atima is the home village of Brigadier Mustafa al-Sheikh, a senior officer in the Free Syrian Army who moved operations there after staying at a camp on the Turkish side for months.

The village of Atima, located just two kilometres (1.2 miles) from the border, was once home to 7,000 inhabitants.

Ongoing violence has forced many to seek shelter in a refugee camp in nearby Qaa, or even in surrounding olive groves.

This border region is a hub for the rebellion and Atima and its environs in particular are home to numerous rebel groups.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)
 

Date created : 2012-11-26

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