More than 49 civilians including children were killed on Monday due to Syrian regime air strikes on a square in the rebel-held town of al-Janudiya in the west of Idlib province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said.
"It's a public square, and a lot of people gather there because there are shops," said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.
Syrian opposition groups, mainly Jund al-Aqsa and the Al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front captured a checkpoint on Saturday in the towns of Psenqol and Muhambil on the highway to Latakia province as the Syrian regime forces withdrew from Muhambil towards the coastal towns of Sahel al-Ghab, opposition media claimed.
Amateur videos showed regime forces withdrawing from Muhimbil in trucks and dozens walking towards the coastal strongholds of Bashar al-Assad as rebels shot at the soldiers.
"After taking over several villages, we came from the mountains and entered the town and began combing it," Abu Malek, a field commander from the Nusra Front who led the fighting against Muhambil told the opposition’s Orient-news channel.
Regime media said that the Syrian army forces withdrew from Muhambil to regroup and take positions more suitable to attack the town. Videos and photos published by rebels showed huge amounts of weaponry and tanks abandoned in the town.
Along with the Nusra Front, leading opposition groups Ahrar ash-Sham, the Levant Front and Islam Army comprised an operations room and joined the Fatah Amy in the “Victory Battle” to capture Idlib on March 24, which fell four days later on March 28.
Less than a month after the capturing of Idlib, two major regime military bases - al-Qarmeed and al-Mastouma - came under rebel control.
After rebels captured the town of Muhambil, the regime forces started air raids on the town, according to activists reporting on social media.
Fierce fighting still continues between regime forces and rebels around the Abu al Duhur military airport, the largest airport in the north of the country and the last regime stronghold in the eastern part of Idlib province.
More than 220,000 Syrians have been killed in the four-year civil war according to the UN estimates. More than 6.7 million Syrians, 70 percent of the country's population, are displaced internally, while at least 5 millions have fled to neighbouring countries Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan.