Clashes between anti-government fighters and regime forces killed 51 combattants on both sides in northwestern Syria yesterday, a war monitor said. Hardline rebels and jihadists attacked loyalist positions in the south of Idlib, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The attack was led by the al-Qaeda-linked Hurras al-Deen group and another jihadist faction Ansar al-Deen. The fighting has killed 23 regime forces and 20 opponents, including 13 jihadists, the Observatory said. In the southeast of the bastion, eight rebels were killed. Regime forces recaptured Khan Sheikhun last week. The town lies on a key highway running through Idlib province, and fully recapturing the artery would allow the government to reconnect Damascus to second city Aleppo.