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Islamists claim control of major Syrian military base


BEIRUT – Islamist fighters on Monday said they had taken control of a key government base in north-central Syria.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, said the base, the largest government position in the region, had fallen to al-Nusra Front fighters backed up by other jihadists.
Most of the nearby Hamadiyah base had fallen to the Ahrar al-Sham rebel group in ongoing fighting, but troops were holding out in some areas, Observatory Directory Rami Abdel-Rahman told newsmen.
Abdel-Rahman said that over 30 government troops had been killed in the fighting.
Report says both bases are located just outside Maarat al-Nuaman, which lies about half way along the main highway between Aleppo and the central Syrian city of Hama.
The rebel advance came a day after the Syrian army claimed progress north of Aleppo.
Government forces were attempting to encircle the rebel-held eastern half of the city, which was Syria’s largest before the war.
Analysts say the fall of eastern Aleppo would be a major blow to rebels, who in spite of advances in Idlib and in southern Syria are under pressure from both regime forces and the Islamic State militia. (dpa/NAN)

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