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Syria: Rebels Seize an Army School Near Aleppo

Syrian rebel forces seize key army infantry school north of the city of Aleppo as fighting continues.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 7/23/2012, 4:43 AM

Free Syrian Army soldiers step on portraits of Assad
Free Syrian Army soldiers step on portraits of Assad
Reuters

Syrian rebel forces on Sunday seized an army infantry school in the town of Musalmiyeh, 10 miles north of the city of Aleppo, a senior military defector based in Turkey and rebel sources inside Syria told Reuters.

“This is of big strategic and symbolic importance. The school has ammunition depots and armored formations and it protects the northern gate to Aleppo,” Brigadier General Mustafa al-Sheikh told the news agency.

“I cannot tell you the details but I can say that the morale of the Syrian army is collapsing,” he added.

Rebel sources in the northerly Aleppo province told Reuters the facility had been seized following a firefight and defections within the school. They said several loyalist officers had been captured.

Earlier on Sunday, helicopter gunships bombarded a number of districts in Damascus, trying to drive out opposition forces from the capital. Syrian President Basher Assad's forces appeared to regain some ground as they drove rebel fighters from the Mezze district, residents and opposition activists reported.

Elite Fourth Division troops besieged the northern Damascus neighborhood of Barzeh in an effort to overcome opposition fighters.

Elsewhere in the country, government forces hammered the major eastern city of Deir al-Zor with artillery and mortar fire. Helicopters fired rockets in the residential districts in an attempt to prevent opposition forces from taking over the city, witnesses said.

A former artillery officer told Reuters that he counted around 200 shells hitting the Ordi and Old Airport districts of the city, located some 270 miles (430 kilometers) northeast of Damascus.

It was the heaviest reported bombardment since the army stormed Deir al-Zor one year ago, to crush street protests against Assad, who disappeared last week and whose whereabouts are currently unknown.

Meanwhile on Sunday, Israel filed a complaint against Syria in the United Nations, alleging that Syrian forces crossed the border between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights last week.

Israel's Deputy UN Ambassador, Haim Waxman, sent a letter to the UN Security Council Secretary General, in which he said that during fighting Thursday between the Syrian Army and rebel forces at Jubta al-Hasheb, Syrian forces crossed the 1974 Armistice Line.

Waxman noted that the event is a serious breach of the armistice agreement, which could have far reaching ramifications for security and stability in the region.