OLIVER HOLMES, REUTERS TORONTO SUN
BEIRUT – Syrian rebels battled forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad just outside Damascus on Thursday, restricting access to its international airport, and the Dubai-based Emirates airline suspended flights to the Syrian capital.
A rebel fighter who identified himself as Abu Omar, a member of the Jund Allah brigade, told Reuters 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 immediately verified because of severe restrictions on media access to Syria.
Two Austrian soldiers in a U.N. 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.