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Syrian Rebel Forces Set Sights on Latakia

Al-Qaeda and affiliated jihadist groups have reportedly taken the lead in an offensive on Syrian Alawite villages.
A Syrian soldier stands next to a car with "Free Army" written on it in Haffeh town near Latakia city June 14, 2012. The Syrian town of Haffeh was smouldering and nearly deserted on Thursday after days of clashes between government forces and rebels, while activists reported more army assaults on pro-opposition areas across the country. REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT) - RTR33LTX

Just hours after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s speech vowing victory over the rebels and “terrorist” groups in several areas of the country, those groups have launched a major offensive on the Latakia countryside in northwest Syria, the regime's stronghold.

The offensive, which the rebels have named "the battle for the liberation of the Syrian Coast,” has surprised the regime forces, said a Syrian source close to the government who spoke to Al-Monitor Aug. 5 on condition of anonymity.

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