Cilvegozu, Turkey - Rebel fighters raided a Syrian army outpost at a key border crossing with Turkey on Thursday in an attempt to seize control of the gate, but were forced to withdraw after coming under attack by military helicopters, a rebel spokesman said.
The dawn attack was the third time in 10 days rebels have tried to seize the Bab al-Hawa gate, a vital commercial crossing in northwestern Syria, opposite the Turkish Cilvegozu gate in Hatay province.
A Reuters reporter on the Turkish side of the border crossing said he could still hear intermittent gunfire on Thursday evening coming from the Syrian side and black smoke rising into the air 2-3 km (miles) from the border.
Ahmad Zaidan, spokesman for an opposition group called the Higher Council of the Revolution's Leadership, said rebels were in charge of large areas around the border crossing and that they wanted to gain control of the gate itself.
He said the raid was also meant to provide an opportunity for opposition sympathisers among the government soldiers to defect. Most defections, he said, were pre-planned whereby sympathisers would know of an impending rebel attack.