Russia-backed Syrian troops seize key areas after clashes with rebels near Latakia

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Syrian army troops are seen during clashes with rebel fighters in Homs. File photo

ARA News 

ALEPPO – Subsequent to intense air and missile bombardments on rebel positions, Syrian regime’s army forces regained Tuesday several towns and villages from the armed opposition groups in the northern outskirts of Lattakia and Jabal al-Turkman (Mount Turkmen), prompting opposition fighters to withdraw to their positions in the mountains, military sources reported. 

Speaking to ARA News, Mohammed al-Naser, a spokesman for the rebel alliance Army of Conquest, said that pro-Assad army forces, backed by a Russian air cover, were able to take control of several key locations held by rebels in northern Lattakia after pummeling the Turkmen-populated villages with long-range missiles and dozens of airstrikes. 

“Rebels were forced to withdraw towards Jabal al-Turkman under intense bombings from Russian warplanes,” he added. 

Hundreds of civilians, mostly Turkmen, have been subsequently displaced from the Jabal al-Turkman in the wake of Russian airstrikes and the regime’s army bombardment on the area, civil rights activists told ARA News, pointing out “many of them are still stranded in the region due to the ongoing unrest”.

“The regime’s army forces were able then to take over the Rashwan Hill and the villages of Katf al-Ghader, Ain Samoukh, Jib al-Ahmar and Ruwysat al-Mallouha,” he said, adding “clashes are still ongoing in the vicinity of these villages in an attempt by rebels to regain them.” 

Fighters of the Army of Conquest were able to repel advances by government forces towards the Jabal al-Turkmanin in Latakia countryside, according to al-Naser.

“Our fighters were able to destroy a 14.5 gun and a troop carrier for the regime’s army after hitting them with anti-tank missiles,” al-Naser told ARA News, pointing out “pro-regime forces tried to infiltrate into our headquarters from the village of Kabaneh, the towns of Ghumam and Mount Ziwik north of Latakia.

In the meantime, Turkish General Staff said Tuesday the Turkish air force shot down a Russian Sukhoi fighter jet over Jabal al-Turkuman, arguing “it penetrated Turkish airspace and had been warned five times without moving away from the Turkish area.” 

In return, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the plane had been hit when it was 1 km (0.62 mile) inside Syria, warning of “serious consequences” for what he termed “a stab in the back administered” by “the accomplices of terrorists”.

“We will never tolerate such crimes like the one committed today,” Putin said.

Jabal al-Turkman, is a Syrian mountain range that runs along the eastern length of Latakia Governorate, and it is inhabited mostly by Turkmens. 

Reporting by: Taim Khalil

Source: ARA News

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