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Syrian rebels put choke hold on government supply lines

The Free Syrian Army has captured several critical areas from the government this week, curtailing delivery of supplies to those they are battling for control of Aleppo.

By Correspondent / November 20, 2012

Syrian fighters celebrate the victory on top of a tank they took after storming a military base in Aleppo, Monday. The Free Syrian Army has captured several critical areas from President Bashar al-Assad's government this week, curtailing delivery of supplies of the Assad Army could level the playing field for rebels in Aleppo.

Khalil Hamra/AP

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Aleppo, Syria

After months of fighting, Syrian opposition forces in Aleppo say that in the past week they’ve captured several critical areas from government forces that may soon give them the upper hand in northern Syria. The new ground will allow opposition groups to strain or potentially cut off supplies to government troops fighting in Aleppo Province. 

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Most recently, members of the Free Syrian Army captured a base that belonged to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s 46th regiment. Control of the base, located to the west of Aleppo, will now allow FSA fighters to cut off a critical supply route and bring them closer to connecting with the adjacent Idlib Province. The capture was also a boon because the base contained much-needed munitions and tanks for ill-equipped opposition forces. 

Several days before capturing the new base, rebels managed to bolster their own supply lines by taking control of the Kindi University Hospital in Aleppo. Perched atop a hill on the northern edge of the city, the Assad Army had been able to use the facility to close off a major road that connected Aleppo to the northern towns between the city and the Turkish border. 

IN PICTURES – Inside Aleppo

FSA fighters say the final step to closing off supply lines for the Syrian Army in Aleppo will mean taking control of the city’s airport, which the opposition group says it is now close to doing. As the group takes hold of an increasing share of ground and cuts off more government supply routes, however, it’s confronted with the realities of trying to advance farther with extremely limited supplies. 

“We’re trying to cut the supply lines for the regime inside the city,” says Abu Tawfik, a commander of Liwa Tawheed, one of the largest FSA units now fighting inside Aleppo. “The airport is the most important part of the city now. If we can control the airport, we can cut their supplies and win the war here.”

The road connecting Aleppo and Damascus is already under rebel control, which means that the regime forces are now almost entirely dependent on resupplying their troops by air. According to FSA fighters, most of the regime forces' supplies for Aleppo Province are brought to the airport, where they are picked up by helicopter and delivered to the surrounding bases. 

The airport is now surrounded on three sides by FSA fighters, but they have so far been unable to capture one area near the airport that is populated by Assad loyalists. Fighting is likely to drag on there for some time to come. 

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