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Syrian rebels cut off Damascus airport in critical step (+video)

The Syrian rebels cut off the main road to the Damascus airport today. The fighting forced the closure of the airport and makes a rebel assault on the capital more likely.

Rebels celebrate over a Syrian fighter jet they claim to have shot down.
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Syrian opposition forces have reportedly captured part of the road to the Damascus airport in fighting today, bringing opposition forces closer to besieging the capital.

Rebels say the violence has forced the closure of the entire Damascus International Airport, while Dubai’s Emirates airline announced that it is indefinitely suspending all flights to and from the Syrian capital. In a statement on the airline’s website it wrote that “the safety of our passengers and crew is of the highest priority and will not be compromised.”

The rebel assault near the airport may indicate that opposition forces are getting closer to besieging the capital city and now pose a greater threat to the military’s air force, both of which are major steps toward the removal of President Bashar al-Assad

“The regime is already thinking in terms of siege mentality in Damascus, but the rebels are also not in a position to dislodge the regime yet,” says Joseph Holliday, a senior research analyst at the Institute for the Study of War who specializes in Syria.

But their push on Damascus will likely bolster their efforts elsewhere in the country by keeping regime forces focused on the capital. 

“The regime still has a much higher preponderance of troops in Damascus than anywhere else in the country. The rebels are strong enough there that it will prevent the regime from deciding to reinforce the north or something like that because they need everything they’ve got in Damascus,” adds Mr. Holliday.

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