Syria’s Idlib city falls to Islamist insurgents

Al-Qaeda's Nusra Front seized Idlib for the first time since the conflict in the country began

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Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate and its allies seized on Saturday the city of Idlib, the second provincial capital lost by the government, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

"After five days of fighting, "Al-Nusra Front and its allies have captured all of Idlib," the Britain-based Observatory said.

Al-Nusra Front, the official Syrian affiliate of Al-Qaeda, announced the capture of the northwestern city on its Twitter accounts.

"Thanks be to God, the city of Idlib has been liberated," the group wrote on one account.

It posted photos showing its fighters in front of the governorate building, the city council, a local prison and a police station in the city.

The city's fall comes on the fifth day of fighting between a coalition of Al-Nusra and various Islamist opposition allies and the regime.

More than 130 people have been killed in the fighting, according to the Observatory.

The first provincial capital to fall from regime control was Raqa, in northern Syria. It was lost in March 2013 to rebels who were subsequently pushed out by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group.

Raqa has subsequently become the de facto Syrian capital of ISIS's self-declared Islamic "caliphate" in territory it controls in Syria and Iraq.