Syrian forces have recaptured a northern military air base that had been besieged by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) since 2013, Syria state media and a monitoring group have reported. “Army and the armed forces eliminated large numbers of ISIL terrorists and make contact with the forces defending Kweires Airport in Aleppo’s eastern countryside,” the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) said on Tuesday.
SANA also reported that government forces recaptured several villages in the eastern suburbs of Aleppo. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said that government forces backed by armed forces loyal to the regime, Hezbollah fighters and Russian air strikes had managed to break the siege. The government had launched a major offensive to reach the airbase on October 16.
ISIL seized new territories in Aleppo last month, pushing out rival rebels and leading the government to intensify its operations in the area. Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr, reporting from Beirut, said ISIL is reportedly sending reinforcements from Raqqa to Aleppo. Earlier on Tuesday, SANA said that at least 24 civilians were killed and 57 others injured by two rocket shells that landed in residential areas of the coastal city of Latakia, quoting local police.
The observatory put the death toll at 23 civilians, adding that at least 40 others had been injured in the attacks. The rockets landed near Teshreen University. Latakia is home to the ancestral village of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and has been targeted by rocket attacks several times.