Damascus: Al Qaeda militants on Saturday stormed into another government-controlled town in northwestern Syria.

Several Al Qaeda-affiliated groups, notably Nusra Front, overran the town of Jisr al-Shughour in Idlib province, just days after the jihadi militants unleashed an operation dubbed the “Battle of Victory” with the aim of claiming control of the town near the Turkish border, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The observatory said clashes have been raging in the vicinity of the town and in some parts of it since midnight, adding that the violent battles inside the town were coupled with six Syrian airstrikes against the militants’ positions there, Xinhua news agency reported.

The push toward Jisr al-Shughour came less than a month since the Al Qaeda affiliates captured the city of Idlib, limiting the government control to some towns in the province.

The offensive also signifies the militants’ resolve to expand their control to the entire province of Idlib, just a year after the Islamic State (IS) group captured the northern city of al-Raqqa.

The predominantly-Sunni majority town was one of the first areas to spiral out of the government’s control when the crisis began in 2011, following the killing of 140 Syrian soldiers. The Syrian forces later recaptured the town.

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