ALEPPO - Forces loyal to President Bashar Assad backed by a dawn barrage of artillery fire and airstrikes drove Syrian rebels from a strategic military base near the disputed northern city of Aleppo on Friday, a local photographer said.
The advance into Base 80, a large military position which rebels have held since February, will help Assad's forces move towards rebel-held areas of Aleppo city and follows a string of successful offensives this month.
A photographer who supplies pictures to Reuters arrived at the scene about 1 km (0.6 miles) from the base at dawn and said he saw around two dozen airstrikes and artillery hit insurgent positions.
Rebels from Liwa al-Tawid, the largest insurgent force in Aleppo, told him that their unit as well as dozens of others had been pushed out of most parts of the base but were regrouping to retake the area, next to Aleppo International Airport, which is still under government control.
Rebels told him 25 of their fighters had died.
A monitoring group that uses a network of pro-and anti-Assad sources said that the offensive was aided by the Lebanese Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah and pro-Assad militia.