Syrian army recaptures five towns near Aleppo's airport

Damascus, Jan 14 (IANS) The Syrian army said Monday that its soldiers recaptured five towns east of Aleppo and thus enhanced the security around the northern city's international airport, Xinhua reported citing state-run SANA news agency.

The Syrian army recaptured al-Nakkarin, al-Zarzour, al-Taaneh, al-Subeihieh and Height 53 in the eastern countryside of Aleppo, eliminated a large number of "terrorists" and seized their weapons and ammunition, an army statement said.

"This new achievement enhances the security in the area surrounding the international airport of Aleppo, paves the way for eliminating all mercenary terrorists in its eastern and northern countryside, and tightens the army's control over the industrial city and the roads leading to it from al-Bab district," the statement added.

The rebels had been trying to attack Aleppo's airport after storming some airbases in the restive province, which used to be the economic hub of Syria before the country got engulfed by conflicts.

Meanwhile, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that four rebels were killed and 14 others wounded in clashes with government forces in the southern province of Qunaitira.

Reporting about rebel-on-rebel fighting that escalated two weeks ago, the Observatory said at least 46 fighters from the Islamist Movement were killed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the Qentari area, 80 km north of al-Raqqa city.

The ISIL also executed at least 14 rebels after clashes in the Syrian Desert, a few km from al-Sekhna city, the Observatory said, adding that one ISIL fighter was killed during the clashes.

In the central province of Homs, radical rebels executed three members of the Syrian military intelligence near the town of Husin, the Observatory said.

The infighting between the rebel groups in Syria have killed at least 500 people since its start, according to the rights group.

The Syrian troops have been fighting rebels for almost three years. The international community is preparing for the holding of the Geneva II peace conference designed to seek a political solution to the nation's protracted crisis.