15:51 GMT +330 March 2017
    In this photo taken on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, Syrian army personnel fire a cannon in Latakia province, about 12 miles from the border with Turkey in Syria

    Syrian Army Pushes Extremists out of Key Areas Bordering Turkey

    © AP Photo/ Alexander Kots
    Middle East
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    Russia Versus ISIL in Syria (618)

    The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) assisted by Russian forces and Hezbollah fighters is on a roll in northern Latakia, pushing extremists out of strategic areas close to the Syrian border with Turkey, where the Russian Su-24 bomber was shot down earlier this week.

    "The Syrian forces' operations in the northern parts of Latakia, near the border with Turkey, have gained much success in recent days and the [Sunni] militant groups are retreating from most of their position," the Fars news agency reported.

    Damascus-led forces freed al-Rahmalia and al-Khidr hills, as well as Tal Sifah and Tal al-Malouha, killing an undisclosed number of extremist fighters and destroying militant infrastructure.

    Following days of intense fighting, the SAA has reportedly taken al-Markashileh and Jab al-Ahmar regions under control. On Friday, Damascus-led forces managed to push militant fighters from Tal Sifah and Tal al-Malouha in northern Latakia.

    Earlier this week, the Syrian Army reportedly killed three senior commanders of the Free Syrian Army in the province of Latakia. One of them, Rasheed Bikdash, who the media outlet described as one of the "Mujahidin Army" leaders, is said to be "the highest-ranking defector" from the SAA.

    • Russian military aircraft at Syria's Hmeimim airfield
      Russian military aircraft at Syria's Hmeimim airfield
      © Sputnik/ Dmitriy Vinogradov
    • Russian war planes at Hmeimim base in Syria
      Russian war planes at Hmeimim base in Syria
      © Sputnik/ Dmitriy Vinogradov
    • Russian tactical group seen at Hmeimim aerodrome in Syria
      Russian tactical group seen at Hmeimim aerodrome in Syria
      © Sputnik/ Dmitriy Vinogradov
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    © Sputnik/ Dmitriy Vinogradov
    Russian military aircraft at Syria's Hmeimim airfield

    Various radical groups, including ISIL and al-Nusra Front, have been trying to overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad for nearly five years. On September 30, Russia launched an aerial campaign sending Su-24M, Su-25 and Su-34 warplanes to conduct precision strikes on ISIL and other terrorist targets in Syria at the request of Damascus.

    On November 24, a Turkish F-16 shot down the Su-24, claiming that the aircraft had violated its airspace. Russian officials and the Su-24 pilot, who survived the crash, insist that the plane did not cross into Turkey. The crew, according to the pilot, did not receive any warning prior to the attack.

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    Islamic extremism, radical Islam, Russian aerial campaign, counterterrorism, Downing of Russian SU-24, Syrian Arab Army, Latakia, Russia, Syria
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    • avatar
      Excellent. The borders with Turkey as well as with other middle eastern countries are important to be controlled by Russia,Syria,Iran.
    • avatar
      Well the critical region seems to be between Aleppo and Latakia near the Syria-Turkey border since a lost of critical supply lines originate from there ; if that critical region is blockaded that might dampen down the conflict somewhat. However since no one country can control all of Syria Russia will certainly have to pick which part of Syria is a priority in the long run and which is not. Other countries can also come in to stabilize other parts of Syria. I don't think one country like Russia and her allies can stabilize all of Syria in the long run.
    • That's a good news....but the terrorists can fire FROM turkey which is even worse..
    • avatar
      Tactical Investor in reply tob00049568(Show commentHide comment)
      b00049568, What U.S. did is give Putin the opportunity to become the new head in the middle east and now the world see;s for itself how in just a few weeks Russia has completely shaken the rebels to the core. The next stop should be to shake up Saudi
    • avatar
      Tactical Investor in reply to (Show commentHide comment)
      Jet fuel can't melt steel beams, Not if they get bombed and that will happen soon.
    • in reply toTactical Investor (Show commentHide comment)
      tacticalinvestor, Unless Russia would bring the event into a court....I guess turkey will be "innocent" til there.
    • avatar
      b00049568in reply toTactical Investor (Show commentHide comment)
      tacticalinvestor, No I don't believe that to be the case; the West still have core interests they will defend for sure but parts of Syria are up for grabs; there is not a whole lot of oil in Syria after all........
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