Daily Israel Report

Syrian Rebels Seize Weapons Depots Near Aleppo

Syrian rebels have seized several weapons depots in the village of Khan Toman in Aleppo province after days of fierce clashes.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 3/18/2013, 6:16 AM

Rebel fighter aims his weapon towards Syrian government forces near Aleppo
Rebel fighter aims his weapon towards Syrian government forces near Aleppo
AFP photo

Syrian rebels have seized several weapons depots in the village of Khan Toman in Aleppo province after days of fierce clashes, a military source told AFP on Sunday.

"Opposition fighters gained control over weapons and ammunition stores in the village of Khan Toman in southern Aleppo province on Saturday after fierce fighting that went on for more than three days," the source said.

He said the stores contained "a small number of ammunition boxes remaining after the main stock was transferred over a period of more than four months."

But activists said the opposition had taken control of "huge reserves," and video posted online showed fighters examining dozens of crates containing weapons and ammunition inside one warehouse.

"These are spoils from (Syrian President) Bashar al-Assad," the person filming the warehouse says, according to AFP, as fighters move from crate to crate, urging the camera to film the weapons.

"Rockets, film these rockets," they say. "These are 107-mm caliber, made in Iran," they add. "These are the rockets that Bashar al-Assad was hitting us with."

The video says the capture of the depots was led by the Martyrs of Syria and the Hittin Brigades of the rebel Free Syrian Army.

The capture of the arms depots was confirmed by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog, which also reported "heavy fighting between regime forces and rebel fighters in the area of Khan Toman" on Sunday.

The Observatory said most of the warehouses were under the control of Islamist fighters, adding that weapons captured included Grad rockets, mortar and tank shells and hand grenades, as well as three tanks and several military vehicles.

In Aleppo, it told AFP, clashes erupted between Islamist fighters belonging to an Islamic court body in the city and members of the rival opposition brigade in the Sakhur neighborhood.

"Three civilians were killed, along with four members of the court's police and a judge for the court," the group said, adding that the clashes erupted when members of the body tried to arrest a member of the rival brigade.

The dead included the head of the body's police force, the Observatory said, a Syrian who fought in Iraq and was imprisoned there.

Elsewhere, pro-regime militants battled Bedouin and opposition fighters in the village of Dama in southern Sweidah.

In Damascus, regime forces were shelling the southern district of Al-Hajar al-Aswad, the group said, adding that fighting continued in the northern Barzeh neighborhood, which residents began fleeing a day earlier under heavy fire.

The Observatory said at least 96 people had been killed throughout the country, according to a preliminary toll for Sunday.

As the fighting intensifies and enters its third year, Britain and France are planning to provide support to the Syrian rebels in their war against Assad without the full backing of the European Union.

The two nations plan to call on the EU to move up the date of its next meeting on its arms embargo against Syria – but both have said they will arm the rebels on their own even if the European body votes against it.

The United States has already begun training and equipping a small group of Syrian rebel fighters at special camps in Jordan, with limited assistance from French and British military personnel.

The Syrian regime, meanwhile, has shown no signs of letting up on the crackdown against rebels, warning last week that it is ready to fight "for years" against rebels.

Syrian opposition chief Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib has offered to talk to regime representatives without "blood on their hands."