DAMASCUS, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- Clashes continued Friday between the rebels and the Syrian troops in the vicinity of a military airfield and the international airport of the country's northern province of Aleppo, activist' reports said.
The rebels have unleashed attacks against the civilian airport of Aleppo and the nearby al-Nairab airbase since Wednesday, activists said, placing the death toll of the three-day-long clashes at 150, roughly evenly divided between the rebels and the government troops.
The pro-government al-Watan daily said recently that the Syrian army was poised to wrest back control over the Brigade 80 base, of which the rebels have overrun large swathes. It said the army ringed the base to recapture it.
The paper said the brigade was used by the government troops to provide protection for Aleppo's international airport and the adjacent al-Nairab airbase.
Meanwhile, a leading commander of the rebels in Aleppo was quoted by the Saudi-funded al-Arabyia TV as saying on Friday that the rebels' attack would continue until the civilian airport and the airbase fall in their hands.
The recent incidents came as the rebels had been taking pains to achieve territorial gains in a bid to empower their position in possible negations with the administration of President Bashar al- Assad, local analysts say.
The rebels have recently taken control of al-Furat dam and a town in northern Syria in addition to small airbase in Aleppo, activists claimed.
Regarding negations with Damascus, the main coalition of the Syrian opposition in exile reportedly said after a meeting in Egypt's Cairo that they would back the negotiation calls by its head, Moaz al-Khatib, but they placed "guidelines" for the talks to take place.
They demanded that the negotiations be conducted with government officials without anyone of the Assad's inner circle or security apparatus.
Syria's Minister of National Reconciliation, Ali Haidar, recently said that he was ready to hold talks with al-Khatib but said that any dialogue should take place on Syrian soil.
As the situation in Syria has reached a bloody stalemate, the United Nations' World Food Program (WFP) said the about 40,000 people had fled heavy fighting between the rebels and the army in the eastern Syrian town of Shaddadeh in the Hasaka province.
The three-day fighting in the Shaddadeh has left 30 rebels and 100 army men killed, according to activists' claims.
"The fighting and displacement only aggravates the misery of these people," WFP spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told reporters in Geneva.
Last week, UN human rights Chief Navi Pillay placed the overall death toll of Syria's 23-month-old crisis at nearly 70,000.