Jihadist rebels seize key Syria base

Jihadist rebels seize key Syria base

Syrian rebels have seized control of a key airbase in the north-western province of Idlib after a two-year siege.

 

Abu al-Duhur airbase was the final regime position in the province, which is now held almost entirely by rebels.

 

The militants behind the attack are a coalition of mainly Islamist groups, including the al-Nusra Front.

 

Their capture of the base was helped by duststorms in the region, which hampered Syria's air force.

 

Since late March, the Islamists have seized several cities in the province including Idlib and Jisr al-Shughour.

 

They stepped up their offensive against Abu al-Duhur in late August, using suicide attacks to seize the entrance to the airbase and several positions on its outskirts.

 

The regime troops reportedly retreated from the base and allowed the militants to move in.

 

The coalition behind the attack on the base, which has dubbed itself the "Army of Conquest", is an alliance of militant groups including al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, al-Nusra front.

 

The coalition seized Idlib's provincial capital Idlib city in March and has since extended its gains throughout the province, seizing a string of strategic towns.

 

The report on Syrian state TV conceded that government troops had "evacuated their positions and moved to another point".

 

With the fall of the airbase the Syrian military has been completely driven out of Idlib province, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

 

Insurgents now control nearly all of the province, except for the predominantly Shia villages of Foua and Kfarya which are held by pro-government militias and Lebanese Hezbollah forces, not the Syrian army.

 

 

Source: bbc.com