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Syrian army overruns Idlib, rebels flee: activist

Syrian opposition militants flee the city of Idlib, following a four day assault

AFP , Wednesday 14 Mar 2012
Syrian Army
residents gather around the body of Mohammed Halak, killed during fighting between Free Syrian Army fighters and the Syrian Army in Idlib (photo: AP)
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The Syrian army has seized full control of Idlib following a four-day assault and rebel troops have fled, an activist in the northwest city told AFP on Wednesday.

"Since last night there has been no more fighting," said Noureddin al-Abdo, reached by telephone from Beirut.

"The (rebel) Free Syrian Army (FSA) has withdrawn and regime forces have stormed the entire city and are carrying out house-to-house searches."

The army launched its assault on the rebellious province near the Turkish border on Saturday, bombarding the city and outlying regions in a bid to root out armed insurgents.

"The FSA preferred to withdraw because everyone knows it cannot resist the army," Abdo said.

A pro-government newspaper on Tuesday had announced the fall of the city, saying regime forces had managed to capture it in record time.

"A major operation launched three days ago in Idlib... ended in record time with army units wrapping up search operations during which dozens of armed men and fugitives were killed," Al-Watan daily said.

The capture of Idlib comes two weeks after regime forces stormed the Baba Amr rebel stronghold in central Homs following a month-long blitz that left hundreds dead.

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