Syria Rebels Take Coastal Village in Assad Heartland

إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية W460

Syrian rebels seized a Mediterranean coastal village Tuesday as they pushed to consolidate their presence in a key regime bastion near the Turkish border, a monitoring group said.

The government denied the claim, saying fighting was still underway in the area.

The claimed capture of Samra, in Latakia province, comes a day after rebels seeking to topple President Bashar Assad seized the area around Kasab, the last government-held border crossing with Turkey.

In retaliation, the army pounded rebel positions in the northwestern province, heartland of Assad's Alawite sect and scene of fierce fighting since Friday, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Rebels, including from the jihadist Al-Nusra Front, "took control of Samra village in Latakia province early Tuesday," said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.

Samra is located in a valley near the Turkish border, and gives the rebels access to the sea.

Latakia is also important because of its location on the coast, and losing it would be a tough blow for the regime, said local activist Omar al-Jeblawi.

"The area is so strategic to the regime, that whenever fighting does break out in Latakia, the army pulls back from other areas in order to redeploy here," he told Agence France Presse.

Jeblawi said "thousands of opposition fighters" have deployed in the Latakia region.

"The advances are quick. And the takeover of Kasab was only the beginning of the road to liberating Latakia."

A security source in Damascus denied that Samra had fallen, saying "fierce fighting" was still underway.

"The Syrian army is completely in control... of the mountains" overlooking Samra. It is impossible (for the rebels) to take over the area," the source said.

Speaking to AFP by phone, a rebel fighter in the area attributed the opposition's advances to the withdrawal two weeks ago of the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Since early January, ISIL had been fighting moderates and Islamists in the opposition camp in much of northern Syria, leaving thousands dead.

"We had our differences with ISIL, but now they are gone, so we can work as one hand," said the rebel, who identified himself only as Samer.

He tried to dispel fears the fighting in Latakia may take on an overtly sectarian character, saying "our problem is not with religious groups. We just want the regime out."

In a previous round of Latakia fighting last year, Human Rights Watch accused rebels and ISIL of waging a "planned attack on the civilian population" of Alawite villages.

Since Friday, some 170 fighters on both sides have been killed, the Observatory said.

More than 146,000 people have been killed and nearly half the population displaced in Syria's three-year war.

Comments 10
Thumb Senescence 25 March 2014, 15:10

"The area is so strategic to the regime, that whenever fighting does break out in Latakia, the army pulls back from other areas in order to redeploy here"
Precisely. They hope to relieve pressure from their Lebano-Syrian enclaves and other regions like Aleppo. This will be short live, I say.

Thumb Senescence 25 March 2014, 18:34

Thank you for the value input, naharnet-addict.

Thumb popeye 25 March 2014, 15:45

Qalamoun and Yabrud are of no strategic value to the regime. They are for the terror party. They dragged regime resources to the battle of Yabrud and they got the answer in assad's heartland. The party of terror has just sent over 2,000 terrorists to Kassab to help the regime. The outcome is body bags)

Thumb Senescence 25 March 2014, 18:37

"The party of terror has just sent over 2,000 terrorists to Kassab to help the regime"
I assume by your tone you mean HA, and by that conjecture I imply the need for a credible sources so your claim may be asserted instead of well, being the opposite and merely an opinion.

Missing abraham 25 March 2014, 17:59

check your facts anony
without the Turkish army and inteligance, the rebels would never had entered into Kessab.
They gave them tank and artilary cover, to enter that village

Thumb Senescence 25 March 2014, 18:34

Quite right. Not to mention that in addition, for all practical purposes, a no-fly zone extending into Syrian territory was also provided as further aid.

Thumb Senescence 25 March 2014, 19:15

What Turkey had done (direct military intervention) may constitute an act of war and would therefor be considered illegal and against the will of the people he is assumed to represent and international law. The line between terrorists and opposition groups is a fine one indeed.

Turkey's help is indiscriminate since groups are usually mixed with, and seeing as how Jabhat Al-Nusra is currently the primary force on the ground in Kessab, Turkey has provided aid and support to an internationally recognized terror group (they've already desecrated a dozen or so churches). I'm not sure if Syrian citizens or the international community are supportive of such things.

Same with the pilot whose helicopter was shot down inside Syrian territory (act of war). He was later beheaded, of course.

Russian delivery of tanks and such weaponry is 100% legal by law. Don't know much about Iranians.

Thumb Senescence 25 March 2014, 18:58

I am in general agreement with your post, with a minor difference or two in opinion.

"Qalamoun/Yabroud is [...] either"
More or less; a good amount of Lebanese men are regularly recruited or come and go to Syria to fight on behalf of rebels. Weapons and such are also smuggled from that area. Comparatively, of course, they don't amount to much, but I assume rebels are in need of anything they can get their hands on.
See here:

"This Rebel [...] for a while now."
Indeed, indeed. Not much of a surprise nowadays, however.

Thumb Senescence 25 March 2014, 19:04

"Qalamoun/Yabroud was [...] corridor."
I was under the impression that the chemical weapons will be delivered to a port in Latakia, as they have been done so in the last couple of months. The rebels pushing into Latakia is contradictory to your (implied, I suppose) claim that recent victories are to facilitate this delivery.

Of course, this is ignoring the fact that Qalamoun doesn't have anything to do with the delivery of chemical weapons stocks since they will not be delivered through Lebanon or Qalamoun (as Qalamoun is a border region and the port is in Latakia, experiencing a rebel attack into regime territory).

Missing --karim- 26 March 2014, 04:22

Good to see the FSA-Al Qaeda jihadist cannibal terrorists being destroyed, irrespective of all the propaganda that tries to hide it.