Over 500 rebels killed in Syria’s Latakia

Damascus, March 26: Clashes between the Syrian army and armed militant groups in the country’s northwestern province of Latakia have claimed over 500 rebels’ lives since March 21, media reported.

More than 500 rebels were killed in the battle, most of them Saudis and Chechens, on the the border with Turkey in Latakia as the rebels failed to seize control of any of the areas they have targeted, Xinhua reported citing al-Watan newspaper.

The battle started March 21 when large numbers of armed militant groups infiltrated the Syrian territories from the Turkish side of the border.

The rebels are staging hit-and-run attacks in Kasab without achieving any gains on ground, according to the report.

A Saudi suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden armoured vehicle at the military observatory 45 site in Kasab killing Col. Samuel Ghannum, the officer in charge of the site.

The report, citing military sources, said troops succeeded in foiling the rebels’ attack on the observatory and fully secured it after killing 75 of the attackers.

The Syrian artillery is also targeting the positions of the rebels, destroying rocket launchers that the latter had erected on Syrian territory.

Activists said the rebels were fighting in northern Latakia to open a route to the sea to receive weapon shipments after the Syrian troops blocked key smuggling routes from Lebanon in the south.

Latakia is the ancestral place of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s family and a stronghold of his Alawite minority sect, an offshoot of Shia Islam.

The Syrian government has for long accused regional and other countries of supporting the hardline militant groups, mainly the Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and other jihadi groups in their battles to bring down the Syrian administration.

IANS