Last updated: 17 March, 2013

Syrian rebels seize arms depots in Aleppo

Syrian rebels have seized several weapons depots in the village of Khan Toman in Aleppo province after days of fierce clashes, a military source told AFP on Sunday.

“Opposition fighters gained control over weapons and ammunition stores in the village of Khan Toman in southern Aleppo province on Saturday after fierce fighting that went on for more than three days,” the source said.

He said the stores contained “a small number of ammunition boxes remaining after the main stock was transferred over a period of more than four months.”

But activists said the opposition had taken control of “huge reserves,” and video posted online showed fighters examining dozens of crates containing weapons and ammunition inside one warehouse.

“These are spoils from (Syrian President) Bashar al-Assad,” the person filming the warehouse says, as fighters move from crate to crate, urging the camera to film the weapons.

“Rockets, film these rockets,” they say. “These are 107-mm calibre, made in Iran,” they add. “These are the rockets that Bashar al-Assad was hitting us with.”

The video says the capture of the depots was led by the Martyrs of Syria and the Hittin Brigades of the rebel Free Syrian Army.

The capture of the arms depots was confirmed by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog, which also reported “heavy fighting between regime forces and rebel fighters in the area of Khan Toman” on Sunday.

The Observatory said most of the warehouses were under the control of Islamist fighters, adding that weapons captured included Grad rockets, mortar and tank shells and hand grenades, as well as three tanks and several military vehicles.

In Aleppo, it said, clashes erupted between Islamist fighters belonging to an Islamic court body in the city and members of the rival opposition brigade in the Sakhur neighbourhood.

“Three civilians were killed, along with four members of the court’s police and a judge for the court,” the group said, adding that the clashes erupted when members of the body tried to arrest a member of the rival brigade.

The dead included the head of the body’s police force, the Observatory said, a Syrian who fought in Iraq and was imprisoned there.

Elsewhere, pro-regime militants battled Bedouin and opposition fighters in the village of Dama in southern Sweidah.

“The clashes lasted several hours and killed at least three members of the (pro-regime) Popular Committees,” the Observatory said, adding that eight Bedouin and opposition fighters were also killed.

In Damascus, regime forces were shelling the southern district of Al-Hajar al-Aswad, the group said, adding that fighting continued in the northern Barzeh neighbourhood, which residents began fleeing a day earlier under heavy fire.

The Observatory said at least 96 people had been killed throughout the country, according to a preliminary toll for Sunday.