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Syria army retakes strategic town in Latakia

18 February 2016 12:12


The Syrian army says it has recaptured the strategic town of Kansaba in the northern countryside of Latakia Province after heavy clashes with militants.

The retaking of the town allows the army to move on to regain the militant-held town of Jisr al-Shughour, northeast of Kansaba in Idlib Province, as well as other areas held by extremist groups in Idlib.

The Syrian army has been able to regain large parts of the Latakia countryside in recent weeks. Earlier, the army regained control over the two main militant strongholds of Salma and Rabiya in Latakia.

Syrian government forces have been fighting a foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. Several regional countries — among them Turkey, which has a long border with Syria — has been aiding the militants fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Just on Thursday, reports emerged that Turkish forces have “covertly escorted” at least 2,000 militants through the border into Syria over the last week. The militants headed to the Syrian province of A’zaz, where, conspicuously, Kurdish fighters have been battling extremist groups.

In their battle against the militancy, Syrian government forces have been receiving cover from ally Russia since September 2015. The Russian aerial campaign was launched on a request from Damascus.

According to a new report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research, the foreign-backed militancy in Syria has claimed the lives of over 470,000 people, injured 1.9 million others, and displaced nearly half of the country’s pre-war population of about 23 million within or beyond its borders.

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