Rebels capture city of Idlib, a big defeat for Assad forces
Rebels captured the key city of Idlib from government forces Saturday in the most significant defeat for forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in two years. The rebel force, led by the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, surged into the city overnight and by day's end had ousted government forces almost entirely.
The loss for the government came amid a number of recent indications that the Assad regime is struggling to maintain the momentum it won on the battlefield last year, including the failure of two recent offensives that fizzled in the north and the south of the country.
The official Syrian news agency SANA indirectly acknowledged the defeat, reporting that government forces were regrouping to the south of the city to confront what it said were thousands of "terrorists" supported by Turkey. The Turkish government has long offered support to most of the rebel forces crisscrossing its border in pursuit of its four-year-old quest to unseat Assad.
Many of the rebel fighters were local residents who escaped to the countryside to join the largely rural uprising against Assad in 2011. - Washington Post
Clash reportedly kills 15
Pakistan's military says its soldiers have killed at least 15 extremists in a northwestern tribal region bordering Afghanistan. An army statement says three soldiers were wounded in Saturday's battle in the Tirrah valley of the Khyber region. It says ground forces launched the attack after spotting a group of extremists. The information could not be immediately corroborated. Pakistan bars journalists from working in its tribal regions. - AP
Museum attack toll rises