Syria rebels reject Lebanon Salafists' jihad call
BEIRUT - Agence France-Presse
Rebel fighters prepare to launch of a rocket in the neighborhood of Saif al-Dawla district of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, on April 21, 2013. AFP PhotoSyria's main rebel Free Syrian Army on Wednesday rejected calls for jihad (holy war) by radical Sunni sheikhs from neighbouring Lebanon.
"Our official position as the Supreme Military Command of the Free Syrian Army... is that we thank them but we reject any calls for jihad in Syria," FSA political and media coordinator Louay Muqdad told AFP.
"We reject any presence of foreign fighters, regardless of where they are from. We have said that what we are missing in Syria is weapons, not men," he added.
Thousands of foreign fighters have joined Syrian rebels pitted against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
Two Lebanese Salafist sheikhs have called on their followers to join rebels fighting in Syria and to support Sunni residents of the embattled central province of Homs.
Their calls come after Syria's opposition and a monitoring group accused Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah of fighting in Homs alongside troops loyal to Assad's regime.
In a speech on Monday, controversial Lebanese Salafist leader Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir announced the establishment of "free resistance battalions" in Sidon, the southern city where he is based.
Fierce clashes at Syria's Minnigh airport: NGO
Syria rebels were Wednesday battling regime troops inside the Minnigh military airport in the north of the country for the first time, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
"The rebels, who have laid siege to the airport for months now, entered it for the first time around dawn," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
"Heavy fighting is still taking place this morning inside the grounds of the airport," he said.
The rebels on Tuesday took a key military position outside the airport, in Aleppo province, which allowed them to launch a raid on the facility.
A group of regime-allied fighters who attempted to reach the airport to boost government troops there were intercepted by Kurdish fighters who killed nine of them, the Observatory said.
A military source said the rebels broke into the airport on Tuesday but added that they were then pushed back out.
Rebel fighters have tried multiple times to take the Minnigh airport, a key military facility in Aleppo province.