Syria Army Ousts Rebels Near Latakia

Syria Army Ousts Rebels Near LatakiaSyria Army Ousts Rebels Near Latakia

Syrian government forces pushed rebels back from an area bordering President Bashar al-Assad’s heartland, a monitor said Saturday. The area borders Latakia Province, a bastion of support for Assad and home to his ancestral village.

Syria’s official SANA news agency said “dozens of terrorists” had been killed and that troops had captured several villages after “intensifying operations in the area,” Middle East Online reported.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said at least 40 government and rebel forces were killed in clashes in Hama Province’s Sahl Al-Ghab region, Middle East Online reported.

The Britain-based observatory said Saturday government forces had retaken around seven of those positions, including the power plant.

Earlier this week, a rebel alliance, which includes Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front, began a major offensive in the area, taking around 17 strategic hilltops and other positions, including a power plant.

Elsewhere, the observatory said 25 Syrian rebels, including three senior commanders, were killed in a failed attack on a makeshift army base outside the northern city of Aleppo.

SANA said “a number of terrorists were killed and wounded” by government forces in the west of the city.

The observatory said sporadic fighting was continuing on the western outskirts of Aleppo Saturday morning, with army planes carrying out airstrikes and rebels firing rockets.

Once Syria’s economic powerhouse, Aleppo has been ravaged by fighting and divided between government control in the west and rebel control in the east since shortly after fighting began there in mid-2012.