Assad's forces push back rebels in Syria's Alawite mountains

By REUTERS
August 19, 2013 15:44

 
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Syrian army and militia troops loyal to President Bashar Assad have pushed back a rebel offensive in the mountain heartlands of his Alawite sect, officials and activists said on Monday, after days of heavy fighting and aerial bombardment.

The assault by Islamist rebels on the northern edges of the Alawite mountains overlooking the Mediterranean drove hundreds of Alawite villagers out to the coast and marked a major challenge to Assad's reassertion of power over central Syria.

But the Syrian president, battling a two-year uprising which has descended into a devastating civil war, sent reinforcements to the rugged area of northern Latakia to repel the attack.

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