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Syrian rebels capture strategic border crossing into Turkey

Rebels gain important 3rd border crossing into Turkey as strategic foothold, supply route.

Syria turkey iran sept19Enlarge
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, right, speaks with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi, under a portrait of President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on September 19, 2012. Salehi arrived in Syria after proposing to send observers and as Amnesty International accused the regime of waging "relentless, indiscriminate" attacks against its own people. (LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images)

Syrian rebels celebrated Wednesday after beating back loyalist forces and capturing a northern border crossing with Turkey.

They pulled down a Syrian flag and tore pictures of President Bashar al-Assad while firing their guns into the air, CNN reported, citing Turkish media.

“I am a free Syrian!” Zisha Bargash told the Associated Press. “This is the beginning of the end Assad. Game over.”

The checkpoint at Tal Abyad in the northern province of al-Raqqa is essential because it gives rebels a foothold and access to supplies, the AP said.

While rebels have captured other outposts, this is the first northern checkpoint under their control, according to the AP.

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Tal Abyad is the third border crossing into Turkey under rebel control, Reuters reported.

“I can confirm that the (Tel Abyad) gate has fallen. It is under the complete control of the rebels,” a Turkish official told Reuters.

Al-Raqqa province has largely supported Assad, and asserting more control there helps rebels in their battle with nearby Aleppo, according to Reuters.

Elsewhere in the country, two bombs were reported to have exploded in a suburb of Damascus, the Syrian capital, according to the Associated Press. The AP wrote that state media said the blasts caused "many" casualties.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was meeting with Assad in Damascus on Wednesday to discuss the 18-month-old Syrian civil war.

As Syria’s strongest Middle East ally, Salehi said Iran is ready to “exchange views with different Syrian groups to find a way out of the crisis which would be acceptable for all parties,” according to Iranian media reports on CNN.

Salehi met earlier this week with Turkish and Egyptian officials in Cairo.

Speaking after a new session of the United Nations General Assembly, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said it was "troubling" that there was no end in sight to the Syrian conflict, the BBC reported.

"Unfortunately both sides, government and opposition forces, seem to be determined to see the end by military means," he said.

"I think military means will not bring an answer. That should be resolved through political dialogue," said Ban, according to the BBC.

Leila Zerrougui, the new UN envoy on children in conflict, said the agency was investigating whether Syrian rebels and government forces were attacking children, according to Agence France Presse.

More from GlobalPost: Inside Syria: complete coverage

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/syria/120919/syria-rebels-capture-border-crossing-turkey