BEIRUT (Reuters) - Around 100 Syrian soldiers and 80 Islamist fighters were killed during a two-day battle in which insurgents took the Wadi al-Deif military base, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said on Tuesday.
The Britain-based group said Islamist insurgents including al Qaeda's Syria wing, the Nusra Front, on Monday took the base next to the country's main north-south highway linking Aleppo with Damascus.
Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad had previously managed to repel numerous attacks on Wadi al-Deif, which has been surrounded by insurgents for two years.
Reuters could not immediately verify the report by the Observatory, which says it tracks the conflict through a network of sources on both sides.
Syrian government officials were not immediately available for comment. Syria's state news agency SANA said that the army had killed several "terrorists" in Idlib province.
Syria's war started with a pro-democracy movement that grew into an armed uprising and has inflamed regional confrontations. Some 200,000 people have died in the conflict, according to United Nations estimates.
(Reporting by Oliver Holmes; Editing by Tom Heneghan)