Syrian rebels capture helicopter air base near the capital Damascus after fierce fighting

Activists say Syrian rebels have captured a helicopter base near the capital Damascus.

The director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdul-Rahman, says rebels seized control of the Marj al-Sultan base on the outskirts of Damascus on Sunday morning.

He says at least 15 rebels and eight soldiers were killed in the fighting that started a day earlier.

Abdul-Rahman and Damascus-based activist Maath al-Shami say rebels destroyed two helicopters with rocket propelled grenades and captured a tank. They say the base houses several radars.

Syria's conflict erupted in March 2011 with an uprising against President Bashar Assad's regime, inspired by other Arab Spring revolts. It quickly morphed into a civil war that has since killed more than 40,000 people, according to activists.