Middle East

Around 180 Syrian soldiers, jihadis reported killed in battle for base

This Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014 photo provided by the anti-government activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Jihadi fighters from the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front and other rebel factions, rest after clashes with Syrian troops in Wadi Deif in the northwestern province of Idlib, Syria. (AP Photo/Syrian Observatory for Human Rights)

BEIRUT: Around 100 Syrian soldiers and 80 Islamist fighters were killed during a two-day battle in which insurgents captured the Wadi Deif military base, activists said Tuesday.

The Britain-based group said Islamist insurgents including al-Qaeda's Syria wing, the Nusra Front, Monday took the base next to the country's main north-south highway linking Aleppo with Damascus. Fighters also captured the smaller Hamidiya base, southwest of the Wadi Deif, the Observatory said.

The group said that around 120 soldiers were captured in the assault, citing insurgent sources.

Forces loyal to President Bashar Assad had previously managed to repel numerous attacks on Wadi Deif in Idlib province, which has been surrounded by insurgents for two years.

Reuters could not immediately verify the report by the Observatory, which says it tracks the conflict through a network of sources on both sides.

Syrian government officials were not available for comment. Syria's state news agency SANA said that the army had killed several "terrorists" in Idlib province.

SANA also said Tuesday that the army had killed more than 60 "terrorists" from ISIS in the province of Deir al-Zor, hundreds of kilometers east of Idlib.

Syria's war started with a pro-democracy movement that grew into an armed uprising and has inflamed regional confrontations. Some 200,000 people have died in the conflict, according to United Nations estimates.





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