Syria rebels seize chunk of Aleppo base

Syrian rebels on Sunday seized control of a large sector of Sheikh Suleiman base west of Aleppo, bringing them closer to holding a large swathe of territory extending to the Turkish border in the north.

The rebels took control of Regiment 111 and three other company posts located inside the base after fierce fighting overnight, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

"Two rebels and one soldier were killed, while five soldiers were captured. The prisoners said that 140 of their men had fled to the  scientific research centre on the base,"  Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

Sheikh Suleiman sprawls over nearly 200 hectares (500 acres) of rocky hills about 25 kilometres (15 miles) from Aleppo city, an area now almost completely under rebel control.

Also on Sunday, the army clashed with rebels on the outskirts of Damascus and in the southern Qadam neighbourhood of the capital, pressing ahead with its bombardment of rebel-held towns, the Observatory said.

Troops shelled rebel-held Daraya southwest of Damascus and Irbin to its northeast, the Britain-based watchdog said. The latter town was hit by air raids on Saturday.

The military has for several days bombarded rebel strongholds in the suburbs from ground and air, raising fears of a looming ground assault by the army to try to establish a secure cordon around the capital.

Fifty of the 101 people killed nationwide on Saturday died in the Damascus region, mostly in the northeastern and southern outskirts of the city, said the Observatory which relies on a countrywide network of activists and medics.

In all, more than 42,000 people have been killed since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's rule erupted in March last year, according to the Observatory's figures.

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