Rebel at­tack in Syria kills 27 regime fight­ers

The Borneo Post (Sabah) - - WORLD -

BEIRUT: More than two dozen pro-gov­ern­ment fight­ers were killed in north­west­ern Syria overnight in a joint at­tack by rebel and Is­lamist forces, a mon­i­tor said yes­ter­day.

The Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights said the sur­prise of­fen­sive late Mon­day tar­geted a pair of vil­lages and ob­ser­va­tion points in the coastal prov­ince and regime strong­hold of Latakia, near the Turk­ish bor­der.

“At least 27 regime forces and al­lied fight­ers, in­clud­ing eight of­fi­cers, were killed in fierce clashes and shelling in the vil­lage of Al-Ateira,” said Ob­ser­va­tory head Rami Ab­del Rah­man.

“They took Al-Ateira and kicked out regime forces from sev­eral ob­ser­va­tion points af­ter killing or wound­ing them.”

An­other 40 gov­ern­ment loy­al­ists were wounded and six rebels were killed, he said.

The death toll made the at­tack the blood­i­est op­po­si­tion as­sault on the area in three years, ac­cord­ing to the Ob­ser­va­tory.

Al-Ateira lies about two kilo­me­tres south of the Turk­ish bor­der.

The Bri­tain-based Ob­ser­va­tory said the op­po­si­tion fight­ers in­cluded lo­cal rebels from Latakia as well as more hard­line forces.

Latakia is a strong­hold of Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad and is home to the Hmeimim air­base, where Rus­sian troops and war­planes have been based since 2015.

But forces op­posed to As­sad have re­peat­edly at­tacked the prov­ince since the up­ris­ing broke out in March 2011. They hold a north­east­ern sliver of ter­ri­tory bor­der­ing the neigh­bour­ing prov­ince of Idlib.

That area falls un­der a deesca­la­tion deal agreed last year be­tween Rus­sia, fel­low regime backer Iran, and rebel ally Tur­key. — AFP

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