Syrian rebels seized most of a military airport in government-controlled Sweida province on Thursday, their first such advance in the Druze-majority region, a spokesman told AFP.

This makes it the second major military airport seized in less than a week.

Major Essam al-Rayes, the alliance spokesman,  declared:

“The Southern Front has liberated Al-Thaala military airport and is carrying out mopping-up operations against remaining forces.”

Other activists on the ground also confirmed the rebel advance into the airport.

“They have control of parts of the airport, which is used by the regime for aircraft that bomb Daraa and Damascus provinces.”

One of the activists told AFP.

But Syrian state television denied the claims, and interviewed the provincial governor, who accused media of spreading lies.

The Southern Front advance into the airport comes a day after the alliance, which is an umbrella organisation for several militias, seized the 52nd Brigade base in neighboring Daraa province.

Unlike north of Syria, most of the rebels holding the region in south of Syria are considered moderates.

Activists said many of the government forces who fled the 52nd Brigade as it was captured on Wednesday had withdrawn to Al-Thaala, which lies some 10 km away.

Sweida province has been spared much of the fighting in Syria, and remains almost entirely under government control.

Most of its residents are Druze, followers of an offshoot of Shiite Islam, who made up around three percent of Syria’s pre-war population of 23 million people.

The community has been somewhat divided during the country’s uprising, with some members fighting alongside the government while others expressing sympathy for the opposition.

Mostly, the Druze have taken up arms only in defense of their areas, and have kept out of the fighting more broadly.

AFP contributed to this article.

Second Major Military Airport Seized South of Syria

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