The rebels have for months battled regime troops over the airport complex that includes army bases and a military air field.
They've captured village and towns along the strategic highway and earlier this year advanced within a few kilometers (miles) miles of the airport, cutting the main road the army has been using to ferry troops and supplies to its bases at the airport.
But last month government troops recaptured the village of Aziza on a strategic road that links Aleppo with its airport and military bases, dealing a huge setback to the rebels unable to hold on to the territory in the face of Assad’s superior air power.
The state-run news agency SANA reported Monday that ‘‘armed forces restored security and stability to (six) villages’’ south of the city and along the airport highway, calling it a ‘‘major strategic victory in the north.’’
The Syrian conflict started with largely peaceful protests against Assad’s regime in March 2011, but eventually turned into a civil war that the U.N. says has killed more than 70,000 people.
Associated Press writers John Heilprin in Geneva and Bradley Klapper and Josh Lederman in Washington contributed to this report.