The Free Syrian Army on Friday morning launched an assault on the Kurdish-populated town of Qamishli which lies on Syria’s northern border with Turkey.
Al-Arabiya reported that the FSA entered Qamishli for the first time since the start of the uprising in 2011 and took over several locations near the airport located on the southeast edge of the town.
A video uploaded by activists on Friday purported to show the rebels shelling the airport, while another video uploaded the same day showed smoke rising over the town amid bombardment.
The Local Coordination Committee activist group reported that a mortar round had hit a residential building outside the airport.
The activists added that the FSA was also shelling a regime artillery regiment in the southern edge of the town.
Al-Arabiya reported later in the day that 50 regime troops defected and joined the rebels side as fighting raged in Qamishli.
Between August and September 2012, Kurdish rebels captured most Kurdish-populated areas in Syria’s north, with the exception of Qamishli, which remained nominally under regime control.
The FSA’s offensive against the Qamishli airport comes after rebels earlier in the week launched campaigns against the main airports of Deir Ezzor and Hama.
As rebels have made advances on the ground, the Syrian regime has increasingly resorted to air power to beat back offensives. The rebels in past months have adopted a strategy of hitting military airports to fight back against regime air superiority.