One thing is for sure, the longer this civil war drags on the stronger Al Nusra will become and Assad is not going down anytime soon.

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Rebels seized a strategic air base in northern Syria on Friday after months of fighting, activists and insurgents said, further weakening President Bashar Assad’s grip on the region.

The Syrian military struck back hours after fighters captured the base, launching air strikes on the area, the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“Taftanaz base is being bombarded by Syrian war planes, which are trying to destroy the airport after it was seized by fighters,” it said. These came from several Islamist battalions strong in northern Syria such as Ahrar al-Sham, the Islamic Vanguard and al-Nusra Front, which has links to al-Qaida.

For months, rebels had fought for the base used by military helicopters in Idlib province. But it only fell after Islamist units reinforced them earlier in January.

The United States has branded Nusra a terrorist organization although it enjoys wide support in Syria for its combat skills.

Rebels from the Islamic Front, an alliance of several Islamist units, said Taftanaz is the largest helicopter base in northern Syria and the second largest in the country.