Government Retakes Aramo and Sterba from Rebels in Latakia

Forces comprising ten mainly Islamist brigades advanced to the outskirts of the Alawite village of Aramo

A military source said that the Syrian armed forces have restored security and stability to the towns of Aramo and Sterba in Latakia, in the northern countryside of Syria, after eliminating armed terrorist groups who infiltrated them.


The Syrian state-run news agency SANA quoted the unnamed source as saying on Tuesday that large numbers of terrorists were killed, adding that the majority of them were foreigners.


International news wires and Syrian opposition websites had said that Syrian rebel fighters armed with anti-tank missiles pushed toward President Bashar Assad's hometown of Qurdaha on Monday, the second day of a surprise offensive in the heartland of his minority Alawite sect.


Forces comprising ten mainly Islamist brigades, including two Al-Qaeda-linked groups, advanced south to the outskirts of the Alawite village of Aramo, 20 kilometers from Qurdaha, taking advantage of its rugged mountainous terrain, activists said.


According to Reuters, pro-Assad fighters are mostly centered in Damascus where they are spearheading operations against mainly Sunni rebels battling against four decades of rule by Assad and his late father.


"Dozens of the regime's forces have been killed in the last two days. The objective is to liberate our people in Latakia, and that would entail passing through Qurdaha," said Salim Omar, an activist from the Sham News Network opposition group.


"This is a war from hilltop to hilltop. The region is rugged and tanks are not much use for the regime," Omar said from an undisclosed location on the coast.


But SANA said army units targeted and destroyed a terrorist hideout affiliated with the Nusra Front in the town of Obein, adding that among the killed terrorists were leaders Abu Khattab al-Iraqi and Abu Omar al-Liby.


Earlier on Monday, state media said the army restored security and stability to the towns of Bourj Talla, Beit al-Shakohi and Kifriyeh in the Latakia countryside.


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