Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Army of Conquest-Led Offensive Turns around Syrian Coastal Battles | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad drive a vehicle mounted with an anti-aircraft weapon in the town of Rabiya after they recaptured the rebel-held town in coastal Latakia province, Syria January 27, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

Beirut-The northern Syrian Lattakia fire line has witnessed a series of unexpected fierce clashes, as extensive rounds of fire were exchanged between regime-supporting militias on one hand and Ahrar al-Sham,1st Coastal Division, Ansar al-Sham, 2nd Coastal division, Army of Conquest, Turkistan Islamic Party and al-Nusra Front on the other. Many other Syrian Opposition factions were reportedly involved in the battles as well.

The Opposition considers the battle inevitable to stand in the way of the Bashar Assad regime taking on all areas single-handedly.

Clashes encompassed Syrian Kurd topography in northern Lattakia. Moreover, Syrian Opposition factions bolted out from the blue, engaging in an offensive against Assad regime forces, the battle is referred to by the “Battle of Yarmouk.” Regime aerial pounding accompanied incessant shelling throughout the battle.

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the death of 18 anti-Assad fighters, among which was an al-Nusra Front commander, in addition to 13 pro-regime militants. A large number of members of both parties were wounded.

Free Syrian Army commander in Lattikia Maj.Gen. Ahmad Rahal clarified that the “Battle of Yarmouk” was launched to obstruct Assad’s plan on taking over the zone, he added that battles have successfully registered advances within the initial hours of the launch.

In his statement to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Maj.Gen. Rahal stated that what is distinguishing this battle from any other is that factions of the Army of Conquest (otherwise known by Jaysh al-Fateh) have made their way over to the coastal zone, which turned clashes into long power-drainage open battles. Also, there is the evident deployment of BGM-71 TOW guided missiles which has tipped the scales in the opposition factions’ favor.

Maj.Gen. Rahal explained that with the absence of a political settlement, the sole option left is military; hence was the launching of the coastal battle of Yarmouk. Military offensives have starred the five-year Syrian dispute, launched incessantly by both conflict parties.

Field statistics show the Syrian Opposition factions controlling a number of towns, strategic hills and locations in each of the Kurd mountains. 1st Coastal Division Maj.Gen Ahmad Hamza said that the battles were launched with a collective contribution of all opposition factions assigned to the rural areas of Lattakia, along with the notable support of Idlib and Hama serving factions.

The Jaysh al Fateh-led offensive in Lattakia is the second to be launched by the joint venture this month. Jaysh al Fateh seized several villages in the southern Aleppo province in first three weeks of June.