Syrian government troops have lost control over a major military airbase in the northwestern province of Idlib.
The troops pulled out of the Abu al-Duhur base after a two-year siege by Islamist-led rebels, according to a news flash broadcast Wednesday on Syrian state television.
The rebels have now secured control over nearly all of Idlib province – but it is still not entirely clear which faction controls the province.
It is believed the fighters who seized the base are members of the Al Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra (Al Nusra Front) group.
A number of cities in the province are already under the control of the opposition forces, including Idlib and Jisr al-Shughour, according to the BBC.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the airbase has fallen and the Syrian military has been entirely driven from Idlib province, except for the primarily Shi’ite villages of Foua and Kfariya.
Hezbollah guerrillas and the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, who both are also Shi’ite, may be defending that territory.Hana Levi Julian