Syrian rebels battled forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad just outside Damascus on Thursday, restricting access to its international airport, with Emirates suspending flights to the Syrian capital.A rebel fighter who identified himself as Abu Omar, a member of the Jund Allah brigade, told reporters that insurgents fired mortars at the airport's runways and were blocking the road linking it with the capital.He said insurgents were not inside the airport but were able to block access to and from it.Another source in a Damascus rebel unit said mortars had been used in clashes near the airport but did not know whether rebels had fired mortars directly at the airport.Their accounts could not be verified because of severe restrictions on media access to Syria.Two Austrian soldiers in a UN peacekeeping force deployed in the Golan Heights, disputed by Syria and Israel, were wounded when their convoy came under fire near the Damascus airport, the defence ministry said in Vienna.An official at EgyptAir said it had cancelled its Friday flight to Damascus due to the "deteriorating situation" around the airport. He said the airline would hold an urgent meeting in the next few hours with Egyptian officials to discuss halting all flights between Egypt and Syria.Residents also reported Internet connections in the capital were down and mobile and land telephone lines working only sporadically in what appeared to be the worst disruption to communications in Syria since an uprising began 20 months ago.The past two weeks have seen rebels overrunning army bases across Syria, exposing Assad's loss of control in northern and eastern regions despite the devastating air power that he has used to bombard opposition strongholds.Rebels and activists said the fighting along the road to Damascus airport, southeast of the capital, was heavier in that area than at any other time in the conflict.REBELS CLOSING IN ON AIRPORT"There are no clashes directly around the airport; the fighting is about 3 or 4 kilometres away," he said earlier via Skype, adding that rebels had taken control of many secondary roads and were expected to advance towards the airport.He said that he hoped the proximity of the rebels to the airport would dissuade authorities from using it to import military equipment, but the priority now was to block the road.Emirates said it was suspending daily flights to Damascus "until further notice", but other airlines continued operations.Airport sources in Cairo said an EgyptAir flight that left at 1:30 pm (1130 GMT) had landed in Damascus on schedule but the pilot was instructed to take off back to Egypt. An official said the plane returned to Cairo 45 minutes ahead of schedule. Source: Reuters
Gravity always wins!