Rebel says Damascus airport blocked off, mortars fired

BEIRUT Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:05am EST

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BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian rebel fighters fired mortars at the runways of Damascus international airport on Thursday and are blocking the road leading to the capital, a rebel fighter said.

The account by a Jund Allah brigade fighter, who uses the name Abu Omar, could not be immediately verified. Speaking by telephone, he told Reuters his fighters were not inside the airport but were able to block access in and out of it.

Abu Omar, who said he was with fighters from Jund Allah and two other Islamist brigades close to the airport, said the mortar fire had damaged the runways.

"No one can come in or out of the airport," he added.

Activists earlier said the airport road had been closed by fighting.

Dubai's Emirates airline said it was suspending flights to Damascus with immediate effect and Egypt Air said it had cancelled its Friday flight because of the "deteriorating situation" around the airport.

A spokesman for the rebel military council in Damascus, Moataz al-Qanawati, said he had no information about attacks on the airport but that insurgents in the area "have the capability of striking the airport".

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors violence in Syria, said there had been clashes on the airport road but that rebels were not close to the airport itself.

(Reporting by Mariam Karouny; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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