AMMAN (Reuters) - The Syrian affiliate of al Qaeda said on Thursday it had taken over the city of Ariha, one of the last urban centers in Idlib province in northwestern Syria close to the Turkish border still held by the government.
A coalition of rebel groups called Jaish al Fateh, or Conquest Army, that includes Nusra Front, the al Qaeda affiliate, said it had taken over the city on the Turkish border.
The coalition said it had overrun several checkpoints that defended the city. The Syrian army said intense fighting was going on with Nusra forces that had infiltrated Ariha.
The loss of Ariha would leave most of Idlib, a region that borders Turkey and neighbors the government stronghold of Latakia province on the Mediterranean coast, in insurgent hands.
(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Larry King)