Lebanon Daily Star 
December 9, 2012
SHEIKH SULEIMAN BASE, Syria: Radical Islamist rebels on Sunday seized large swathes of a Syrian military base west of Aleppo, as they consolidated their control over territory in the north near the Turkish border, an AFP journalist said.
Many of the fighters are non-Syrian and one of their leaders, who identified himself as Abu Talha, said he is from Uzbekistan. “Here we are all Muslims,” Abu Talha said of the militants.
One fighter added: “We are all mujahedeens and muhajereens (companions of the Prophet Mohammed).”
The militants refused to say which group they belong to, and Abu Talha barred combatants from other factions from entering the combat zone.
The AFP correspondent said fighters from the main rebel Free Syrian Army did not take part in the battle for Sheikh Suleiman, and that only a small FSA group in nearby villages monitored the battle through binoculars.
“The Islamists caught us unawares by launching an attack on their own against the base on Saturday night,” said an FSA fighter. “They were quicker than us.”
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