Syrian Rebels Attack Assad Airbase

Syrian troops have been battling Free Syrian Army rebels for control of a military airbase on the outskirts of Damascus, according to opposition groups. The rebels captured a "large part" of Marj al Sultan airport, 15 kilometres (nine miles) east of Damascus, and destroyed two helicopters, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The Britain-based group, which relies on a network of activists, lawyers and medics for its information, said 31 rebels and 16 soldiers were killed in the battle. Meanwhile, regime forces used helicopter gunships to shell the northeast and southwest outskirts of Damascus, the Observatory said. The latest military activity comes as Russia and France prepare for talks in Paris next week aimed at addressing their differences over the conflict.