BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian rebels have scored one of their biggest strategic victories since the start of the country's crisis two years ago.
They've captured the nation's largest dam -- a symbol of the Assad family's four decades in power.
Rebels led by a militant group with links to al-Qaida now control much of the water flow in Syria's north and east. And that's brought warnings that any mistake in managing the dam may inundate wide areas of Syria and Iraq.
A Syrian government official denies that the rebels captured the dam, saying only that "heavy clashes are taking place around it." But amateur video released by activists shows gunmen walking around the facility's operations room, as employees apparently carry on with their work as usual.
Meanwhile, in the capital, Damascus, rebels are keeping up the fighting against government troops, mostly in northeastern and southern neighborhood. That fighting is moving closer to the heart of President Bashar Assad's seat of power.
224-r-17-(Sound of gunfire and men shouting, from video provided by Ugarit News)--Sound of gunfire and opposition forces from video provided by Ugarit News that purportedly shows them firing on a military stronghold in a Damascus neighborhood. COURTESY: Ugarit News ((mandatory on-air credit)) ((Ugarit News is not a recognized news gathering organization and the video from which this audio is taken cannot be absolutely authenticated but is consistent with independent AP reporting.)) (11 Feb 2013)
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APPHOTO GFX393: Map locates al-Furat dam in Syria (11 Feb 2013)
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