After Months of Bloodshed, Syria Rebels Making Gains in Idlib Province

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Members of Al-Qaida's Nusra Front villages in the southern countryside of Idlib, December 2, 2014.Credit: Reuters

After months of bloody battles that have prolonged the war of attrition between the Syrian regime and the rebels, the last two days have seen numerous reports of significant achievements for the opposition in the Idlib province in northern Syria. The Syrian Center for Human Rights reported on Tuesday that over 100 Syrian soldiers and 80 rebel fighters from Islamist militias were killed during battles for control over two large Syrian army bases in the region.

The two bases are the largest staging point for forces loyal to President Bashar Assad, and have now reportedly been captured by the Nusra Front, the Syrian offshoot of Al-Qaida, after two years of intermittent battles. According to the center, another 120 Syrian soldiers were taken captive, and are expected to be executed if Assad’s regime fails to strike a prisoner exchange deal.

The reports on Tuesday were made after the rebels announced control over the Alhamedyia base, as well as Idlib, which sits next to the Damascus-Aleppo highway. The base was seized by Nusra Front fighters as well as combatants from other Islamist militias fighting alongside the Syrian opposition. According to reports form opposition officials, the rebels also seized control over strategic supply lines and road barriers.

The move could signal a change in momentum, in favor of the opposition forces, which have recently managed to unite and work in cooperation, which has rarely happened over the last two years.

Regime officials apparently understand the ramifications of the rebels’ achievement, and have reported dozens of casualties resulting from Syrian Air Force strikes on the Idlib province, apparently a desperate response to the loss of control in the area.

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