Islamist rebels capture key town of Jisr al-Shughur from Syrian forces

Fighters of Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate and its allies have overrun the last major government-held city in the northwestern province of Idlib, according to the monitoring group. The fighters launched their attack on Jisr al-Shughur on Thursday, seeking to capitalise on their capture of the provincial capital last month and open up a strategic assault route to the regime’s stronghold on the Mediterranean coast, the group said on Saturday.

Al-Nusra Front and the Islamist brigades … took control of almost all the city. Government forces fled. Thousands of rebel fighters are in the city.

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR)

According to reports from activists, the command of Syrian army and security units withdrew towards Latakia province in the early morning after fighters advanced in the neighbourhoods of the city. They said that some soldiers are still besieged in their bases and negotiating for their surrendering. Jisr al-Shughur is the second largest city to fall to fighters after they took control of Idlib city on March 28. The Syrian government made Jisr al-Shughur its de facto provincial capital after the same coalition calling itself The Army of Conquest overran Idlib city last month. The Syrian Observatory said that the fighters’ latest victory was even more important as it cut a key road between the government stronghold of Latakia on the coast and the central province of Hama.