JISR AL-SHUGHOUR, Syria, April 28 (UPI) -- Islamic rebels captured 100 Syrian government troops and militia fighters after seizing the Syrian military's last urban stronghold in Idlib province over the weekend, according to a human rights observer group.
An array of allied militant Islamic factions, including al-Qaida's Nusra Front, stormed into the town of Jisr al-Shughour from the Turkish border on Thursday, taking most of it by Saturday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based group that monitors the Syrian Civil War, reported Tuesday that the prisoners include dozens of Syrian soldiers and allied militiamen with their families who were captured in Jisr al-Shughour and the village of Eshtabraq.
Syrian state news reported over the weekend that its forces had redeployed to the outskirts of Jisr al-Shughour to avoid civilian casualties, and that militants were conducting executions in the town.
Since the assault began, Syrian military airstrikes have pounded rebel supply routes and positions in the town, killing dozens of people.
SOHR on Sunday reported the militants had surrounded about 30 soldiers in the town's hospital. The monitoring group reported Tuesday that heavy clashes continued there "after a group of regime forces sneaked into the hospital to support the besieged soldiers."
Since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, Jisr al-Shughour had been under government control. It was the last major government-held town in Idlib province. Islamist militants captured Idlib city last month.
On Sunday, SOHR reported 60 civilians were killed or wounded in government airstrikes in Darkoush, an Idlib province town near the Turkish border, and on Monday rebel forces seized the province's al-Qarmeed military base.
According to the BBC's Middle East analyst, Sebastian Usher, the fall of Idlib province would open the way to Latakia province in the west, a largely untouched area that is home to Syria's Alawite community -- to which the family of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad belongs.
"We are planning to liberate the entire province," Baraa Halaq, a spokesman for Islamist rebel group Ahrar al-Sham, reportedly said. "And once we are finished with Idlib, we will turn to Hama and [Latakia]."