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Some of the soldiers appeared to be executed, possibly while fleeing or defecting, while others died during the battle for the school, said Mahmoud, a fighter with the local Tahwid Brigade.
He that said nearly 50 corpses have been found in the 3.5 square kilometer military base, and called on the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and other NGOs to retrieve the bodies.
In a trench in the western section of the school, Mahmoud revealed two corpses that were wrapped in heavy blankets, barely covered by a thin layer of earth.
A mass grave is reportedly located beneath a mound of red soil, along the main road cutting through the campus.
“Some of these men might be martyrs,” Mahmoud said. “Even if they were enemies we have to respect them now.” He quoted a well-known Arabic maxim: “Burial is the way to honor the dead.”
Few rebels wander around the base, which is a regular target of the Syrian government’s nonstop air strikes.
On a recent day, a row of inoperable tanks sits parked in the center of campus, waiting for spare parts and mechanics to service them before they can be used in the battle against the Assad regime.
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A small group of rebels keeps watch at the gate, forming a checkpoint on one of the main roads leading to the eastern and northern parts of Aleppo.
Two Tawhid fighters paint over the slogans promoting the Baath Party and the Assad regime on a perimeter fence. They’re clearing the slate for the rebranding of the base, which will soon be known as the Colonel Yusef al Jader Infantry School.
It’s named after a commander who led the rebels in battle.
Al Jader, who goes by the nickname Abu Furat, was a former commander of a Syrian Army tank brigade who died at the Infantry School after declaring victory.
Rumors swirled around the cause of his death, with some saying he was killed over a dispute over battle spoils.
But Mahmoud confirms that Abu Furat, along with a dozen other rebels, was killed by Syrian Army soldiers who hid out, lying in wait, on the expansive campus.
“Many fighters forgot about the battle and started looking for arms caches,” he says. <span style=”font-size: 13px; line-height: 19px;”>“They were breaking into buildings and didn’t sweep the area, so we lost Abu Furat and other martyrs.”</span>