Militants of Nusra Front. File photo
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A rebel coalition led by Al Qaeda’s Syria franchise on Thursday seized Ariha, the last remaining government-held town in the northwestern province of Idlib, a monitor said, according to AFP.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that Al Nusra Front and its allies captured the city after fierce clashes with regime forces, including Hezbollah fighters, who were then seen pulling out.
“Jaish al-Fatah has taken full control of the city of Ariha after a lightning offensive that ended with a heavy pullout of regime forces and their allies Hezbollah from the western side of the city,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
Jaish al-Fatah, or Army of Conquest, is the name of the coalition which comprises Al-Nusra Front and its allies — mostly Islamist rebel groups.
The Britain-based monitor said dozens of regime military vehicles were seen pulling out of Ariha.
Ariha, which was home to 40,000 people before the conflict began, was the last remaining government-held city in Idlib province which borders Turkey.
The Army of Conquest coalition has won a string of victories in Idlib, including taking the provincial capital on March 28 and the key town of Jisr al-Shughur on April 25.