Middle East

Syria crisis: 'Heavy clashes' at Aleppo Minnigh airbase

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Media captionFaisal Mekdad: "We believe the international community... have to support us"

Syrian rebels and government forces have reportedly clashed near the northern city of Aleppo as they fight for the control of a military airbase.

Opposition fighters battled troops inside the Minnigh airport on Wednesday, activists said.

The Free Syrian Army has been trying to seize a number of airbases in the area to disrupt regime supply routes.

Meanwhile Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister has told the BBC his country is fighting a war against terrorism.

Faisal Mekdad said the international community should be supporting President Bashar al-Assad and his government.

Rebels took hold of a key military position outside the Minnigh airport on Tuesday and launched a raid the following day, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said.

"The rebels, who have laid siege to the airport for months now, entered it for the first time around dawn," Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the UK-based activist group, told AFP news agency.

Heavy fighting was taking place in the grounds, he added.

The rebels said they had killed Syrian army troops and captured tanks and armoured vehicles.

The SOHR said nine pro-Assad fighters died when they were intercepted by Kurdish forces on the way to the base.

Losing control of the airport would be a strategic hit for the regime.

Rebels seized al-Jarrah, another military airbase near Aleppo, in February after days of clashes, reports said.