The predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by Russian air strikes, have captured a former military airbase near the border with Turkey after heavy clashes with rebel factions, a monitoring group and activists have said. The fierce fight for control of Aleppo province continued on Thursday as diplomats from major powers sat down in Munich to discuss the Syrian peace process – including a proposal from Moscow for a nationwide ceasefire to start in March.
The Syrian government, backed by Russian air strikes, launched a major offensive from the north of Aleppo and captured several strategically important towns earlier this month.
The offensive has led to the displacement of more than 50,000 civilians from Aleppo, tens of thousands of whom have amassed in camps at the Turkish border. On Thursday, Kurdish fighters captured a former military airbase near the rebel-held town of Azaz in Aleppo province, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
“The Syrian Democratic Forces have captured the Menagh airbase following heavy clashes with Ahrar al-Sham and al-Nusra front,” Taj Kordsh, an SDF spokesman, told Al Jazeera on Thursday. “Russian air strikes have backed and helped the SDF fighters capture this airbase which is close to the Turkish border.” Sami Kekhia, a Syrian activist on the Turkey-Syria border, confirmed to Al Jazeera that the airbase had been captured by the Kurdish fighters.