Syrian opposition fighters have recaptured a strategic base near Aleppo’s international airport following a violent combat that killed more than 50 people, a monitoring group said on Saturday.
Military forces backed by fighters from Lebanese militant group Hezbollah launched an assault outside Syria’s northern city on Friday morning and had regained control of large parts of Base 80.
However, opposition fighters, along with al-Qaeda loyalists, counter-attacked using Grad rockets against army troops, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
They recovered all of the lost ground, the Observatory said.
“As a result of the fighting, the rebels and jihadists have retaken the parts of the base that were captured during the day by the army,” the watchdog's director Rami Abdel Rahman said, in statements carried by Agence France-Presse.
He said the fighting had left at least 53 people dead, 33 on the rebel side and 20 on the government side.
The rebels seized Base 80, which provided the garrison for both Aleppo international airport and the adjacent Nayrab military airfield, in February.
They failed to capture either airport but civilian flights have been suspended since the start of the year because of rebel fire.
The army has made several advances east of Aleppo in recent days, including the recapture of Sfeira, a town that had been under rebel control for a year.