Rebels Strike Back at Syrian Air Force

Turkey calls for 'safe zones' to protect waves of refugees
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 1, 2012 4:29 PM CDT
In this image made from video and accessed Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, a Free Syrian Army fighter calls out to comrades as another fighter fires at Syrian Army positions in Aleppo, Syria.   (AP Photo via AP video)
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(Newser) – Syrian rebels struck back at the nation's air force today by taking over a military airport and an air defense facility in oil-rich eastern Syria, Reuters reports. The strikes follow other rebel attacks at military airports near the Turkish border. President Bashar al-Assad has been relying on Syria's air power to strafe Syrian rebels and civilians, causing a new tide of refugees to deluge neighboring countries and prompting Turkey to demand "safe zones" in Syria.

But the UN Security Council—still divided over Syria—ignored the plea, as did Western leaders who don't want their troops to protect such safe zones. "We cannot take such a measure unless the United Nations Security Council decides in favor of it," says Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. "First a decision for the no-fly zone must be taken, then we would be able to take a step towards a buffer zone." The 17-month-old conflict suffered its worst weekly death tally last week, with some 1,600 fatalities, according to the United Nations.

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