BEIRUT Syrian rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad declared Damascus International Airport a “legitimate target” Friday in a bid to cut off regime supplies, as clashes between government troops and rebels forced the closure of the airport road for the second time this week.
Fighting around the Syrian capital and the airport has intensified in recent days as rebels press a battle they hope will lead to the collapse of Assad’s regime after 20 months of conflict.
They have set their sights on the city of 1.7 million, and fighting on the outskirts is raising fears that it soon could be facing the most brutal battle of the Syrian civil war.
The rebels issued a stern warning to the regime and travelers planning to use the country’s main airport, just a few miles south of the capital. Loss of control of the airport would be a major blow to the regime.
A fighter who is part of the push against the airport declared it a legitimate target, claiming that the regime has stationed troops and elite forces in it as well as military planes that transport ammunition.
The clashes already have forced the suspension of commercial flights in the past week, although airport officials said Friday the facility was still functioning.