Syrian rebels strengthen hold in country's east

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Associated Press

Posted on November 22, 2012 at 3:34 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 22 at 4:00 PM

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian rebels appear to have strengthened their hold on an oil-rich province bordering Iraq.

Activists say rebels have captured a key military base that was considered one of the last bastions for President Bashar Assad's loyalists in the strategic region, along with its stockpiles of artillery.

The province borders on western Iraq, where Syria's rebels enjoy strong support among Sunni tribes.

Rebels have made a series of recent advances, including the seizure of a military airport last week.

After battling government forces for months to control Syria's economic hub, Aleppo, rebels scored a major victory several days ago when they overran the nearby base of the regime's 46th Regiment. The unit was a pillar of the government's Aleppo garrison and its fall cuts a major supply line.

Rebel fighters also say that weapons seized when bases fall have been essential to their transformation from ragtag brigades into forces capable of challenging Assad's professional army.

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APPHOTO CAI105: This citizen journalist image made from video provided by Shaam News Network which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian rebels celebrating the takeover of Mayadeen military base near Deir el-Zour, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012. Syrian rebels strengthened their hold in an oil-rich strategic province bordering Iraq, capturing a key military base that was considered the last bastion for regime forces in the area. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video) (22 Nov 2012)

<<APPHOTO CAI105 (11/22/12)>>

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