Syrian Army forces, backed by heavy Russian airstrikes, advanced today into the town of Kansaba, along the coast in the Latakia Province. Little fighting appears to have taken place, as the rebels withdrew back into Idlib Province.
This essentially marks the end of the offensive to recover Latakia, and sets the stage for an advance into the Idlib Province, which is controlled by a coalition of rebel factions dominated by al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front. A previous offensive also advanced up to Idlib from the south, by way of Homs, and another is ongoing in Aleppo, to the east.
The success in Latakia gives the Syrian military a choice between making Idlib its next target, or focusing instead on ISIS targets in Aleppo, while keeping the Nusra militants contained within the single province. A ceasefire with other rebels is near, but explicitly excludes both ISIS and Nusra forces.
Latakia was the first major target for Syrian forces when Russia joined the war, with Russia keen to see more breathing room around its own naval base at Tartus. Since then, the war has shifted to a lot of different areas, but has allowed the Syrian military to recover some lost ground.
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