Assad forces capture strategic Syria northern town

2013-09-03 13:10
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Beirut - Syrian forces seized the strategic northern town of Ariha on Tuesday, an opposition group said, in a move that would open the supply line between the coastal stronghold and pockets of army control in a region that is largely rebel controlled.

Other activists, however, said the battle was not over and that rebels were still fighting the regime in Ariha, located near a major highway in the northern province of Idlib.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which reported the Assad military gain, said loyalist paramilitary forces, known as the National Defence Forces, stormed and captured Ariha under the cover of a fierce army artillery assault.

"This allows the regime in [coastal] Latakia to reconnect the land routes between them and their forces in Idlib province, which were under strain in an area surrounded by rebel forces," said Rami Abdelrahman, head of the Britain-based Observatory.

He said the army was now pummelling other nearby towns and mountainous territories where rebels may be based in an effort to cement control of the area.

Assad gaining ground

Syria's 2½-year conflict between Assad's forces and the rebels seeking to oust him has killed over 110 000 people, most of them civilians, according to the Observatory, which uses a network of activists across the country.

Some activists in Idlib said Assad's military had not yet captured the town, with air strikes and fierce clashes raging; but they were not optimistic the opposition would be able to push back the army.

"They still haven't taken it. But they will. They've seized a large piece and they'll slowly advance if the situation stays like this," said Ahmad, an activist living in the province, speaking by Skype. "They've been using air strikes and have reduced much of the town to rubble."

Other activists in the area reported seeing large numbers of Assad forces being moved in the direction of Ariha.

Assad's forces in recent months have gained ground in central Syria and around the capital Damascus, but have made no major dent in rebel control of large swathes of northern or eastern Syria.

The army has threatened a new campaign in the north but so far there has been no major assault. Instead, they appear to be trying to bolster their pockets of territory and slowly build up their forces.

Activists say civilian residents have mostly fled Ariha in the past weeks, due to the heavy air and artillery strikes. According to the Observatory, NDF forces began raiding and looting the town after storming it.

Ariha has been in and out of rebel control. It was taken by Islamist rebel brigades, including the domestic Ahrar al-Sham group and other units linked to al-Qaeda, on 24 August.

NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
8 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Zuma: Pray for peaceful polls

President Jacob Zuma has asked members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to pray for peaceful elections on 7 May.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Saturday Cape Town - 07:38 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    EVENT - left lane closed between Rhodes Avenue and UCT
  • Saturday Constantia - 07:19 AM
    Road name: Rhodes Drive Both Ways
    ROAD CLOSED between Constantia Nek and Canterbury Road until 1300
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold 9790

Bold Design The BlackBerry Bold 9790 smartphone combines the iconic BlackBerry...

From R2979.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you feel...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.