Syrian government forces capture key town in Latakia province

Published January 24th, 2016 - 09:49 GMT

Syrian forces, backed by military aircraft, have managed to wrest control over a strategic town in the country’s western province of Latakia as they continue to gain ground in battles against Daesh.

On Saturday, Syrian troops recaptured Rabia, which lies in the northern part of the province and close to the border with Turkey, Arabic-language Syria Now news website reported.

Rabia served as a major stronghold for opposition militants, and its capture gave Syrian army soldiers the upper hand in their campaign to secure the northern sector of Latakia Province.

Syrian soldiers also established control over Shakeriyah, Beit Awan and Beit Ayoush villages, situated east of Rabia and more than 250 kilometers northwest of the capital, Damascus. 

Separately, Syrian forces retook the villages of Eastern al-Halwa, Western al-Halwa as well as Beit Ablaq, and cleared the hilltops surrounding the provincial capital city of Latakia from militants.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rabia fell after a steady advance by the regime that left the town surrounded.

"In the past 48 hours, regime forces surrounded the town from three sides -- the south, west, and north -- by capturing 20 villages," SOHR head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

Abdel Rahman added that Russian military officials were overseeing the battle for Rabia and that Russian airstrikes played an essential role in the campaign.

Following the capture of Rabia, Syrian army forces are closing in on opposition supply lines from the Turkish border, just to the north.

Editor's note: This article has been edited from the source material.

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