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Dozens of Syria pro-regime fighters killed in rebel attack

Forces opposed to Assad hold a northeastern sliver of territory bordering Idlib [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 July, 2018

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An attack on Syrian regime fighters left dozens dead and more wounded in the bloodiest opposition assault on the area in three years.
A joint attack between Syrian rebel and Islamist forces saw over two dozen pro-regime fighters killed in north-western Syria, reported a monitor on Tuesday.

An observatory said the surprise offensive late Monday targeted a pair of regime-held villages and observation points in the coastal province and regime stronghold of Latakia, near the Turkish border.

"At least 27 regime forces and allied fighters, including eight officers, were killed in fierce clashes and shelling in the village of al-Ateira," said Syrian Observatory for Human Rights head Rami Abdel Rahman.

"They took al-Ateira and kicked out regime forces from several observation points after killing or wounding them."

Another 40 government loyalists were wounded and six rebels were killed, he said.

The death toll made the attack the bloodiest opposition assault on the area in three years, according to the observatory.

Al-Ateira lies about two kilometres south of the Turkish border.

The observatory added the opposition fighters included local rebels from Latakia, as well as more hardline forces.

Latakia is a stronghold of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and is home to the Hmeimim airbase, where Russian troops and warplanes have been based since 2015.

The Russian base has been a frequent target of attacks by opposition forces in recent months, the largest of which occurred in January when the Russian military claimed to have shot down seven of 13 drones that attempted to bomb the airbase, and jammed the others forcing them to land.

But forces opposed to Assad have repeatedly attacked the province since the uprising broke out in March 2011. They hold a northeastern sliver of territory bordering the neighbouring province of Idlib.

That area falls under a de-escalation deal agreed last year between Russia, fellow regime backer Iran, and opposition ally Turkey.

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