Backed by multiple Shi’ite militias and with Russian air support, the Syrian military today managed to capture the rebel-held town of Rabia, the last major rebel-held territory in Latakia Province. Officials followed this up with a prediction they’d retake the remaining villages in a few weeks.
Rabia was one of the longest-held rebel towns in the area, with an al-Qaeda-led coalition holding the town since 2012. Retaking Latakia has been a major focus of the Syrian military in recent weeks, and they’d retaken the town of Salma earlier this month.
Rabia was considered the most important rebel position, however, just 8 miles from the Turkish border, and long rumored to be one of the key border crossing areas for al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, which also controls the entire Idlib Province, just east of Latakia.
Controlling the coast was also a top priority for Russia since it become directly involved in the Syrian War, as they control the naval port at Tartus, and want the Syrian government to securely control the adjacent areas, along with a safe route into the capital.
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