Syria launches air strikes on town seized by Islamist group Jabhat al-Nusra

President Assad's troops have been unable to wrest back any of the ground lost in the last month

Agency
Sunday 26 April 2015 19:28
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Rebel fighters inspect a site damaged by what activists said was shelling by warplanes loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Jisr al-Shughour town
Rebel fighters inspect a site damaged by what activists said was shelling by warplanes loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Jisr al-Shughour town

Government aircraft bombed the north-western town of Jisr al-Shughour, a day after insurgents seized control of it as part of a broader offensive that has left forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad reeling.

The air raid on Darkoush, which killed at least 34, was the deadliest of dozens launched across Syria's Idlib province, where an opposition offensive has left government forces in the area reeling

The opposition campaign, spearheaded by the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamist factions, has captured the two largest urban centres in Idlib province in the span of a month. President Assad’s troops have been unable to wrest back any of the ground lost, despite attempts to mount a counter-offensive.

The military has been relying heavily on its air power to try to stanch the opposition tide, and carried out dozens of air strikes on Jisr al-Shughour and the surrounding area.

The offensive is being conducted by an array of anti-Assad groups, including the al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front, the hard-line Ahrar al-Sham and even some smaller mainstream rebel factions.

With the insurgents now in control of Jisr al-Shughour, the main fighting front has moved some three miles south of the town, said Observatory director Rami Abdurrahman. Anti-Assad fighters have been attacking government positions in a sprawling agricultural plain south of Jisr al-Shughour.

Syria's state news agency said the army ambushed a "convoy of terrorists" along a road in the plain, known as Sahel al-Ghab, destroying six vehicles and killing those inside.

The fight for Jisr al-Shughour began Wednesday and activists said thousands of fighters took part in the offensive. With the fall of Jisr al-Shughour, the government is left with a presence in only a few towns and military bases in Idlib province.

AP

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