Islamic State capture Syrian airbase
Sunday, August 24, 2014
Islamic State fighters are reported to have taken control of Tabqa airbase, the last government stronghold in the northern Syrian province of Raqqa, today after several days of fighting.
The loss was confirmed by Syrian state television, who reported a "successful evacuation of the airport" and that the government forces were continuing local operations against "terrorist groups". This is the third military base in the province to fall to the extremist group in recent weeks, after reports of them seizing weapons during their advances in neighboring Iraq.
Monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported over 300 Islamic State fighters were killed in the fighting since Tuesday, with over 150 government soldiers killed in the same time frame. Clashes reportedly continue in the area around the base.
The airbase reportedly contained several squadrons of warplanes, tanks, and artillery.
Elsewhere, Islamic State fighters were reported to have withdrawn from the area around Homs and to have retreated east, giving up the area to fighters of the al-Nusra Front. Other rebel groups backed by Western countries have also been fighting the Islamic State, but tend to lose those confrontations.
The ongoing fighting is a continuation of the Syrian Civil War, which started in 2011 as protest groups confronted forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. Fighters of the Islamic State had previously fought alongside other opposition groups, but its treatment of individuals led to fighting between them.
- "Clashes rage over Syria's Taqba air base" — Al Jazeera, August 24, 2014
- "Syria conflict: Islamic State 'seizes' Tabqa airbase" — BBC News Online, August 24, 2014
- Sylvia Westall. "Islamic State fighters seize Syrian air base - monitor" — Reuters, August 24, 2014