The Fatah Army, a coalition comprised of Syrian opposition groups, said on Thursday that it captured Ariha, the last remaining stronghold of the Bashar al Assad regime in the northwestern province of Idlib after heavy battles.
The Fatah Army (Conquest Army), a coalition of Syrian opposition groups, was formed earlier in 2015 to form a unified front against Assad regime forces and ISIS in northern Syria.
The city of Ariha neighbours the Latakia province, a regime stronghold on the Mediterranean coast, was captured following intense fighting between opposition forces and regime soldiers.
Coalition forces captured the city after defeating regime forces on several checkpoints used by regime soldiers to defend the city.
Many civilians hid in shelters during the fighting.
A source from the Ahrar al Sham opposition group, one of the leading members of the Fatah Army, confirmed that street fighting was ongoing inside the city.
‘’There are many bodies that litter the streets,’’ the source said.
The city was once home to more than 800,000 people and is strategically located on the main supply line between Idlib and Latakia.
The Fatah Army has made gains in northwestern Syria in recent weeks as they move closer to government-held coastal areas north of the capital of Damascus.
Syria’s civil war has lasted for over four years, claiming a quarter of a million lives and displacing over 10 million people, with over four million being forced to flee to neighbouring Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.