Syria: 200 killed in fight for police academy

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More than 200 Syrian soldiers and opposition fighters died in an eight-day battle for a police academy near the embattled northern city of Aleppo, activists said yesterday.

The UK-based anti-regime group The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the rebels seized control of the police academy in Khan al-Asal, west of Aleppo, after entering the government complex with tanks they captured from president Bashar al-Assad’s troops in previous battles.

Rami Abdul-Rahman, the Observatory’s director, said at least 120 soldiers from Mr Assad’s forces and 80 rebels were killed in the fighting outside Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. He said the rebels now control all buildings inside the complex, which was abandoned by Assad regime forces early yesterday morning.

Elsewhere yesterday, the rebels stormed a central prison in the northern city of Raqqa and captured a border crossing to Iraq in the east.

The territorial gains are a significant blow to Mr Assad, although his forces have regained control of several villages and towns along a key highway near Aleppo International Airport – an achievement that could signal the start of a decisive battle for Aleppo.