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Syrian airstrikes target northwestern town recently captured by hard-line rebels

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BEIRUT — Syrian military aircraft bombed the northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughour on Sunday, a day after insurgents seized control of it as part of a broader offensive that has left government forces in the area reeling.

The opposition campaign, spearheaded by the al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front and Islamic rebel factions, has captured the two largest urban centers in Idlib province in the span of a month. President Bashar Assad's troops have been unable to wrest back any of the ground lost, despite attempts to mount a counteroffensive.

PHOTO: This image posted on the Twitter page of Syria's al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front on Saturday, April 25, 2015, which is consistent with AP reporting, shows a Syrian man flashing the victory sign after the Nusra Front and other rebels captured the town of Jisr al-Shughour from Syrian government forces, in Idlib province, Syria. Hard-line Syrian rebel groups entered the strategic town Saturday in northwestern Syria, sending government troops fleeing after intense clashes that have seen them take nearly all of a crucial province. (Al-Nusra Front Twitter page via AP)
This image posted on the Twitter page of Syria's al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front on Saturday, April 25, 2015, which is consistent with AP reporting, shows a Syrian man flashing the victory sign after the Nusra Front and other rebels captured the town of Jisr al-Shughour from Syrian government forces, in Idlib province, Syria. Hard-line Syrian rebel groups entered the strategic town Saturday in northwestern Syria, sending government troops fleeing after intense clashes that have seen them take nearly all of a crucial province. (Al-Nusra Front Twitter page via AP)

The Local Coordination Committees activist collective and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Sunday's airstrikes targeted the town of Jisr al-Shughour. There was no immediate word on casualties.

The Syrian military has been relying heavily on its airpower to try to stanch the opposition tide, and carried out dozens of airstrikes on Jisr al-Shughour and the surrounding area on Saturday.

The Observatory said at least 27 people, including at least 20 fighters, were killed in such strikes on Saturday alone.

The main fighting front is now located some 5 kilometers (3 miles) south of town, said Observatory director Rami Abdurrahman. Rebels have been attacking government positions in a sprawling agricultural plain south of Jisr al-Shughour as part of the wider offensive.

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PHOTO: This image posted on the Twitter page of Syria's al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front on Saturday, April 25, 2015, which is consistent with AP reporting, shows a Syrian man flashing the victory sign after the Nusra Front and other rebels captured the town of Jisr al-Shughour from Syrian government forces, in Idlib province, Syria. Hard-line Syrian rebel groups entered the strategic town Saturday in northwestern Syria, sending government troops fleeing after intense clashes that have seen them take nearly all of a crucial province. (Al-Nusra Front Twitter page via AP)
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