Syrian Islamist insurgents advance around Idlib city - monitor

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An alliance of Syrian Islamist rebels including al Qaeda's Nusra Front have overrun 17 defense posts around Idlib in an offensive to take the city from the army and allied militia, a monitoring group said on Thursday. Idlib, which is close to the main strategic highway linking Damascus to Aleppo, is the capital of a northwestern province of the same name. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the violence from Britain, said the Nusra Front, the powerful Ahrar al-Sham movement and the hardline Jund al-Aqsa were advancing, taking a total of 17 army posts on the outskirts. It said 11 soldiers and allied militia as well as 17 insurgents were killed on Wednesday and violent clashes continued on Thursday.