Activists: Rebels fight Syrian troops over airbase

In this Friday, Nov. 02, 2012 photo, a rebel fighter walks among the debris of damaged residential buildings after several days of intense fighting between rebel fighters and the Syrian army in the Karm al-Jebel neighborhood in Aleppo, Syria. U.N. officials and human rights groups believe President Bashar Assad's regime is responsible for the bulk of suspected war crimes in Syria's 19-month-old conflict, which began as a largely peaceful uprising but has transformed into a brutal civil war. However a video that appears to show a unit of Syrian rebels kicking terrified, captured soldiers and then executing them with machine guns raised concerns Friday about rebel brutality at a time when the United States is making its strongest push yet to forge an opposition movement it can work with. AP Photo/Narciso Contreras

BEIRUT Syrian activists say rebels and government troops are fighting for control of a key airbase in the country's north.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the rebels have launched a dawn offensive to take Taftanaz air base, a day before a crucial opposition conference in Qatar.

Taftanaz lies near the highway between the capital Damascus and the northern city of Aleppo, a major front in the civil war.

Activist videos posted online claim to show the attack on Taftanaz. A rebel vehicle fires rockets and smoke rises over buildings and what appears to be an airstrip. The videos appear genuine and are consistent with other Associated Press reporting in the area.

Activists say more than 36,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began in March 2011.

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