The Latest: Car bomb kills 18 in Syrian rebel-held city

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BEIRUT – The Latest on the developments in Syria's civil war (all times local):

8:50 p.m.

Syrian activists and a war monitoring group say that at least 18 people have been killed in a car bomb blast in the country's largest rebel-held city of Idlib.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says a car bomb was detonated on Sunday evening in Idlib, the capital of a province with the same name.

Photos and video from the activist-run Thiqa News Agency and Baladi News Agency show heavy damage along what appears to be a major avenue in the city, with several buildings damaged and vehicles overturned.

First responders, ambulances, fire brigades are seen arriving at the scene.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing. The city and the province are controlled by several rebel factions and insurgents vying for dominance, the most powerful being an al-Qaida-linked group.

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3:30 p.m.

Syrian television says the country's military has recaptured a strategically important town in the northwestern province of Idlib in its latest advance into rebel-held territory this year.

The state-affiliated Al-Ikhbariya TV says government forces took Sinjar on Sunday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group says the gain "opens the road" for the government troops to march on the rebel-held Abu Zuhour air base about 19 kilometers, or 12 miles, to the north.

The military has assigned one of its top commanders to lead the offensive into Idlib, the last major stronghold for rebels in northern Syria. The U.N. says more than 2.5 million people are currently living in Idlib, including more than 1 million displaced by fighting from other parts the Syria.

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