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Militants overrun Syrian military base near Idlib city
Armed extremist groups captured a Syrian military base in the northwestern province of Idlib early Monday, after staging multiple suicide bombings in the vicinity of the base, local media reported.
The capture of Qarmid Camp came after "violent" attacks spearheaded by al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front overnight until Monday morning, the pro-government Sham FM radio said.
Syrian government forces have withdrawn to the nearby bases in Mastumeh and Ariha, two of the few remaining towns in the hand of government forces since the al-Qaida-linked groups captured the provincial capital of Idlib late last month.
On Saturday, Nusra fighters and affiliated militants overran Jisr al-Shughour, a city in the countryside of Idlib, near the Turkish borders.
Meanwhile, the pro-government al-Khbar news website cited sources as stating that radical militants staged as many as 10 suicide bombings in the vicinity of Qarmid before storming it, adding that the army forces had to withdraw from the base due to the large number of suicide bombings.
It said, however, that as many as 100 militants, most of them foreigners, were killed before the downfall of the base, adding that the Syrian air force carried a series of airstrikes on the camp to prevent the militants from settling in it.
For its part, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said intense battles are still raging in the vicinity of Qarmid, one of the most important strongholds of government forces in Idlib.
It said around seven militant groups, including the Nusra Front, took part in the broad offensive against the base.
It added that the Syrian warplanes carried out several airstrikes, killing 40 people in the town of Darkush in Idlib countryside.
The watchdog group said at least 15 Syrian soldiers were killed in one of the suicide bombings at Qarmid, adding that the militant groups seized large quantities of weapons, including seven tanks.
The fresh offensive is part of the militants' recent push to consolidate positions in the province of Idlib.
[Source: Xinhua, Damascus, 27Apr15]
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