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Jan 11, 2013 | 16:47 GMT

A Significant Rebel Victory in Syria

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A Significant Rebel Victory in Syria

After a monthslong siege, fighters from the Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham rebel groups have seized Taftanaz Air Base in Idlib province. The fall of Taftanaz Air Base constitutes a significant victory for the rebels in the north. The 253rd and 255th helicopter squadrons were based in Taftanaz, and over time the air base became a major supply hub for loyalist forces as they lost ground lines of communication and supply in the north. The loss of the air base will further isolate remaining loyalist forces in the region, including the provincial capital of Idlib. The fight for Taftanaz Air Base also highlighted a growing trend in the Syrian conflict, particularly in the north. Due to the rebels' growing strength and the increased pressure on al Assad's remaining troops, loyalist forces have been forced to abandon the goal of retaking control over all of Syria. Loyalist offensive operations have decreased markedly, and al Assad's forces have effectively been forced on to the strategic defensive. Rebel forces continue to chip away at the territory controlled by a battered yet still very cohesive loyalist army. The rebels are also learning quickly that hasty attacks against well-defended positions are detrimental to their operations. Facing a dug-in enemy that possesses considerable firepower, the rebels will likely adopt a strategy of surrounding and exhausting loyalist forces before attempting to overtake their strongholds.

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