The relief of Daesh-besieged Kuweires Airbase last year after an astonishing two-year hold-out was a major symbolic blow against Isis in Syria.
The remains of the Daesh fighters still lie on the desert floor outside the sand ramparts of the Kuweires Airbase in northern Syria. A skull, sockets staring at the sun; bones protruding from a military boot; and rotted torsos beneath a gray tarpaulin lie beside the colossal, burnt-out suicide tank they tried to drive through the earthen wall.
For three years, Syrian government soldiers and Airforce cadets and cooks and military teachers fought them off. By the count of Airforce Brigadier General Munzer Zaman, Syrian group commander of Kuweires, around 1,100 men defended their base. Eight hundred of them died.
Twice Daesh managed to break through the perimeter of the 15-sq-km air base on the main highway to Raqqa, driving captured Syrian armored vehicles packed with explosives and smashing them into hangars and an administration block. An intelligence officer called Maher leads us to a 30-metre high pile of concrete.