The Syrian Army has won a crucial victory in the battle against Islamic State, lifting the blockade of Kuweires Airbase, the Syrian government’s key stronghold near Aleppo. The defense of Kweires became the symbol of unbreakable spirit of the Syrian soldiers.
RT’s Lizzie Phelan managed to gain access to the airbase, just days after it was liberated.
Kuweires Airbase was besieged in 2013 and nobody believed the army would be able to defend the installation, given its conditions of poor munitions and provisions’ supply. Yet more than two years later the beleaguered unit met its liberators unconquered and with unbroken spirit.
The way to Aleppo resembles a movie in a post-apocalyptic world: many buildings along the highway are in tatters and still smoking, and burnt out military hardware is scattered along the roadsides. The Syrian Army’s operable armored vehicles that guard the crucial highway are several decades old and rusty.
At night all movement on the highway halts: Islamic State (IS, former ISIS/ISIL) militants get closer to the road and shoot in the direction of headlights of anything that passes, using mortars and domestically produced rockets.
The villages around the Kuweires are completely destroyed, as the Syrian Army had to knock the terrorists out of them one by one.
Since the conflict in Syria began nearly five years ago, the terrorists have taken many military installations. However, Kuweires Airbase was a tough nut for them to crack.
The attacks on the base continued for over two years. The jihadists launched unending mortar airstrikes and sent vehicles stuffed with explosives to inflict damage to the airbase from a safe distance.
“It was vital for us to protect the airbase and destroy the terrorists, recruited all over the world to fight in our land. They did not have the guts to fights us face to face. Instead, they planted car bombs and sent suicide bombers to intimidate us,” Syrian Army Brigadier General Munzir Zaman told RT.
The large territory of the airbase is strewn with shell splinters, shrapnel and fired cartridges.
The army has been unable to drop supplies to the defenders of Kuweires because their helicopters were shot down. The beleaguered garrison had to grow fruit and vegetables in order to eat, which they only managed once every two days.
“When the war began, my son who now came to liberate me was only 16. We talked on the phone and he promised he would come,” Colonel Mehsin Bareeny told RT, stressing that at the time his son was not a soldier, just a student in a high school.
“Now he is 20 and he came and saved me,” Bareeny said.
However, a lot of soldiers could not be saved, as an improvised cemetery at the airbase has been growing larger and larger for hundreds of days.
In August 2015, about a 1,000-strong task force of militants made a fierce attempt to finally break the resistance and capture the base. The attack was repelled, but at high price as the defenders sustained the worst casualties ever. The base was hammered with heavy artillery and mortars.