Syrian army recaptures Latakia
A Syrian rebel fires as a regime fighter jet flies overhead in Syria's eastern town of Deir Ezzor, on August 17, 2013. (AFP)
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Troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad have recaptured all rebel-held positions in the coastal province of Latakia, Syrian state-run SANA news agency reported Monday.
Quoting a military source, SANA reported that "The army retook control of the Nabi Ashia mountain range and adjoining areas in the north of Latakia province."
The areas taken by the army were seized by Syrian rebel groups in early August in a bid to topple Assad and relinquish his control of Syrian provinces.
On Sunday, Syrian state television aired reports that the army had retaken previously rebel-held villages in the coastal area of Latakia, the "hinterland of Assad's minority Alawite community," according to AFP.
A Syrian security force told AFP Monday that the Syrian army was yet to recapture the Salma region, a strategic part of territory that lies on the border with Turkey. It has been in rebel hands since the end of 2012.
A dozen Alawite villages near Qordaha, the hometown of Assad's late father and former Syrian President Hafez Assad, were quickly captured after rebels stationed in the remote Latakia mountains launched the "battle for the liberation of the Syrian coast" at the beginning of August, according to AFP.
On August 11, Salem Idriss, the Free Syrian Army chief, toured one of the Alawite towns captured by the rebels, in a bid to boost the morale of the fighters.
The Britian-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told AFP the "army has made progress" in Latakia province, but could not confirm reports that troops loyal to Assad had recaptured all the villages previously seized by the rebels.