Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Assad Loses Final Idlib Stronghold to Al Qaeda-led Insurgents

BEIRUT (AP) — After a two-year siege, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria and other insurgents on Wednesday captured the one remaining Syrian army air base in Idlib, a development that activists said effectively expelled the last of President Bashar al-Assad’s military from the northwestern province.

It was the latest in a series of setbacks for Assad in Syria’s bitter civil war, now in its fifth year. Syria’s embattled president has acknowledged the losses, saying the army has had to relinquish some areas in the north to better defend core areas seen as more critical to the government.

A state television report said the army pulled out of the Abu Zuhour air base and that the troops “evacuated their positions and moved to another [location].”

This makes Idlib the second of Syria’s 14 provinces to slip completely from Syrian army control. Earlier this year, militant groups captured the provincial capital, also called Idlib, as well as other towns and villages.