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Syrian military breaks Islamic State siege of airbase in Aleppo province

The Kuwairis airbase had been under attack by militants for nearly two years.

By
Fred Lambert
In a photo released by Syrian state news agency SANA, a Syrian soldier fires a heavy machine gun during clashes with rebels in Maaloula, northeast of the capital, Damascus, Syria, on Sept. 7, 2013. On Nov. 10, 2015, activists and state news reported the Syrian military, backed by Russian airstrikes, Iranian troops and Hezbollah fighters, broke a siege by Islamic State militants on an air base in Syria's northwestern Aleppo province. Photo: SANA/UPI
In a photo released by Syrian state news agency SANA, a Syrian soldier fires a heavy machine gun during clashes with rebels in Maaloula, northeast of the capital, Damascus, Syria, on Sept. 7, 2013. On Nov. 10, 2015, activists and state news reported the Syrian military, backed by Russian airstrikes, Iranian troops and Hezbollah fighters, broke a siege by Islamic State militants on an air base in Syria's northwestern Aleppo province. Photo: SANA/UPI

ALEPPO, Syria, Nov. 10 (UPI) -- The Syrian military, backed by Russian airstrikes, Iranian troops and Hezbollah fighters, on Tuesday broke a siege by Islamic State militants on an air base in Syria's Aleppo province.

Syrian state news reported government troops linked up with other regime forces at the Kuwairis air base, east of the city of Aleppo. IS fighters and other militants had been launching attacks against the position for months.

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The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have since September been engaged in bloody clashes to break the siege -- roughly the same time Russia began conducting airstrikes in support of the Syrian military during countrywide counter-offensives.

On Oct. 18, the Syrian military reportedly captured several villages in the eastern countryside of the province and southwest of the city of Aleppo, and regime forces at the time were closing in on both a power plant and the Kuwairis air base.

Pro-Assad forces had also made gains against rebel positions in the Hama, Latakia and Idlib provinces.

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Last week, government troops captured from IS militants the only supply route available to regime forces into the city of Aleppo.

While the offensive effort in Aleppo is mainly focused at consolidating control of southern portions of the province, SANA reported Tuesday Syrian army units targeted militants with the Nusra Front, al-Qaida's Syrian wing, as well as other rebel groups in various neighborhoods of the provincial capital.

News of the breakthrough comes the same day rebel shelling killed nearly two dozen people and injured more than 60 in the provincial capital of Latakia province, home to Assad's minority Alawite sect.

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