Syrian rebels take over northern dam

Syrian rebels transport a bomb in the trunk of a car on 26 November 2012 in the village of Atme, near the Turkish border, in Syria's Idlib province. (Photo: AFP - Francisco Leong)

Published Monday, November 26, 2012

Syrian rebels on Monday captured a hydroelectric dam on the Euphrates River in the country's north after days of heavy clashes, as warplanes attacked a rebel headquarters in the town of Atme near the Turkish border, an opposition group and an AFP photographer said.

Also Monday, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebels and pro-government Kurdish gunmen struck a truce to end days of fighting in the town of Ras al-Ain near the border with Turkey that opposition forces entered earlier this month.

The Observatory said rebel fighters overran government soldiers and captured the Tishrin Dam, near the town of Manbij, before dawn on Monday.

On Sunday, rebels captured a military airport base outside Damascus before pulling back for fear of government airstrikes.

Amateur videos posted online showed gunmen inside the dam's operations room as an employee sat in front of five screens speaking by telephone about the level of water behind the dam.

Another video showed gunmen in front of dozens of green wooden boxes apparently full of munitions.

A gunman opened one of the boxes showing that it contained hand grenades.

Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency said airstrikes by Syrian government warplanes killed and wounded several people in the border town Atme on Monday. However, other reports said the jets missed their targets and killed no one.

Atme is about 130 kilometers (80 miles) west of the Tishrin Dam.

Turkey has requested that NATO surface-to-air missiles be stationed on its side of the border, angering Syria, but said on Monday they would only be used to protect Turkish territory and not to establish a no-fly zone.

Syrian jets have previously bombed rebel targets along the frontier but Monday's strike was one of the closest to the border, about two kilometers (1.5 miles) from a Turkish gendarme compound and near a crossing point for Syrian refugees.

Meanwhile in the Israeli occupied Golan Heights, an Israeli military border patrol vehicle was hit by stray bullets fired from Syria on Sunday.

The incident was the latest apparent stray firing during gun battles in Syria between government and rebel forces fighting a 20-month-long civil war.

(AP, Reuters, AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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