Here in the north, rebels call it “the final battle.” For more than a month, lightly armed fighters have hurled themselves against a well-fortified helicopter base located less than 15 minutes’ drive from the border with Turkey.
The rebels say the last piece of government-controlled territory between Turkey and Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, is Mannagh airbase. The battle for it is a modern-day siege.
“It is like a germ infecting the countryside. If the regime has even a 1% chance of taking back this region, this is a base that they would then want to rule from,” said Abu Marwan, the young commander of the rebel Northern Storm brigade. “Once it has been captured, the north will be liberated.”