BEIRUT — Clashes erupted around three airports in Syria’s northern province of Aleppo on Saturday, as troops bombarded the Golan ceasefire zone bordering Israel in response to rebel attacks, a watchdog said.
The rebels “clashed with government troops in the vicinity of Aleppo international airport and Nayrab military airbase on Saturday morning as shelling was heard in the area,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
East of Aleppo, Syria’s second city and its former commercial hub, fierce fighting also erupted around the Kwiyres military airbase as rebel attacks were countered by strikes from regime warplanes.
The insurgents, who launched the “Battle of the airports” on February 12, are pressing for more gains in the largely rebel-held province after seizing Al Jarrah military airport and a military complex tasked with securing the civilian airport and Nayrab base this week.
Their main goal is to take control of Aleppo international airport, the second largest in the country, which has been closed since January 1 because of heavy fighting.
Also on Saturday, rebels overran a military police checkpoint at the Golan Heights town of Khan Arnabeh just beyond the outer ceasefire line along the demilitarised zone bordering Israel, the Observatory said.
Regime forces responded by shelling Khan Arnabeh and the nearby village of Jubata Al Khashab, inside the ceasefire zone.
The Golan has been tense since the outbreak nearly two years ago anti-regime protests in Syria that quickly turned into a bloody insurgency.