August 7, 2013
Syrian rebels spearheaded by al Qaida in Iraq and its local allies
took control Tuesday of a crucial military airport in northern Syria,
opening a vital supply line between the rebel-held north and Turkey.
The end of the siege that had clamped down the airport since last
October began Monday, when two non-Syrian nationals drove an armored
personnel carrier, loaded with explosives, into a position manned by
defenders of the regime of President Bashar Assad. The explosion
devastated the Assad troops and allowed rebels to overrun the Mannagh
Air Base in Idlib province.
Those rebels included multiple units affiliated with the Syrian
Military Council, an umbrella group with U.S. backing. That poses an
uncomfortable pairing of a group supported by U.S. resources with
Islamist organizations Washington has labeled as terrorist.
The Syrian Opposition Coalition, the political component of the SMC,
announced that the airbase had been “liberated’ by a mixture of nine
rebel groups. They included the al Qaida-affiliated Islamic State of
Iraq and Greater Syria, or ISIS, and its Syrian sister organization, the