April 19, 2013
By Ahmed Kwider
Government forces stationed at Deir Ezzor air base are shelling the provincial capital in eastern Syria with heavy artillery and rockets as the Free Syrian Army claims it on the verge of taking the military’s remaining stronghold in the area.
A FSA spokesman and the local correspondent of pro-revolution Sham News Network say the rebels are between 50 to 100 meters from the airbase perimeter.
Deir e-Zor airport is the second largest in Syria. It encompasses an area of about 100,000,000 square meters and is situated between the town of al-Mariea and Almo Hasan city.
“This airport is the main base for the Assad battalions in Deir e-Zor. At this point , they only attack using the air force, so if the airport falls, Deir e-Zor will be completely liberated,” said Abo al-Taieb al-Naimi, correspondent for Sham News Network in the province.
Government forces have assaulted the city and the surrounding Deir Ezzor province from the base for nearly a year.
“The heroes of the FSA have surrounded the airport have targeted it with mortars and rockets, destroying some jet hangars,” said Feras al Younes of the Deir Ezzor Media Center.
“The siege has begun to tighten in the last 4 days, after ammunition and supplies arrived enabling this offensive,” said al Younes.
“The army is attacking civilians with artillery and air force because they are under pressure, “al Younes explained.
“I’ve been hearing the sounds of clashes and explosions since morning.. The army launched 12 artillery shells on us yesterday. The day before yesterday, the air force targeted us,” he added.
Despite the bombardment of neighborhoods in the city, residents of the town of Almyadeen 50km away from Deir Ezzor reportedly held a demonstration in support of the Free Syrian Army’s activity in the province Friday.
“My advice to the rebels once they take the base is to guard it in a logical and thoughtful way,”said Staff Brigade General Assad Al Zoabi, a former officer in the Syrian Air Force who defected to the rebels in August 2012.
“If the rebels remain concentrated at the base the regime may give them a painful hit by missiles or mortars,” Al Zoabi warned.