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QAMISHLI – Backed by a Russian air cover, Syrian army forces regained Thursday a strategic hill in Jebel al-Turkman (Mount Turkmen) in Lattakia, western Syria, after being engaged in fierce battles with the armed opposition factions in the area, local activists reported.
Speaking to ARA News in Latakia, media activist Mohammed Muwafaq said the government forces were able to recapture the key hill of al-Zahiya from opposition fighters who operate in the Syrian coastal region.
“Rebels pose a threat to the Russian military presence in the coastal region. This is why the pro-regime forces strive to regain it entirely with the support of Russian warplanes,” Muwafaq reported.
The source pointed out that the Syrian army made a “significant progress” towards the coastal areas held by the rebels, after intensifying their military operations in Latakia.
“Russia uses sophisticated missiles and internationally banned bombs against local rebels in a bid to reduce their advance towards the Mediterranean Sea,” he stressed.
“It (Russia) does this mainly to prevent any possible attacks on its interests in the coastal region,” Muwafaq said.
Russia has built strategic bases in the coastal region of Syria. It recently brought more sophisticated anti-plane missiles to these bases, according to Syrian military officials.
Russian politicians reiterate they do not back Assad, but rather they defend their interests in Syria’s coastal region.
“Turkey has mixed the cards in the region after downing the Russian plane,” a Syrian official told ARA News on the condition of anonymity, pointing out “Turkey is currently trying to support the armed Turkmen factions in Latakia’s mountainous area, which raises concerns of the Syrian regime and Russia.”
“Fighting will definitely escalate in the coming days in the region.”
Rebel groups in Jebel al-Turkman area in the countryside of Latakia have been engaged in fierce battles with the regime forces and allied militias for weeks.
Subsequent to a series of intense fighting with al-Nusra and other rebel factions, the Syrian army forces and allies imposed full control over the al-Zahiya hill. Rebels were forced to retreat northeast towards the Jebel al-Akrad (Kurds mountain), which borders Jebel al-Turkman.
Reporting by: Mir Yaqoob
Source: ARA News