DAMASCUS, March 23 (Xinhua) -- Battles between the Syrian army and jihadist-dominated militant groups have raged in Syria's northwestern coastal province of Latakia on the Syrian-Turkish borders, as the army launched a wide-scale offensive to capture the Kasab border crossing.
Syria's state-run media said Sunday the Syrian army inflicted hefty losses upon the militant groups, which have launched a wide- scale offensive since Friday to capture the Kasab border crossing on the Syrian-Turkish borders. The official media added clashes with the "terrorists" are ongoing, charging that a number of Turkish armored vehicles are firing shells to assist the militant groups.
It added that Turkish border guards on the Kasab border point took part in firing at Syrian territories.
Syria's permanent representative to the United Nations Bashar al-Jaafari sent letters to the UN secretary-general and the head of the Security Council, charging the Turkish army of covering this "terrorist attack" and providing logistic and military support for the attackers.
Meanwhile, the pro-government al-Watan said Sunday that the battles have expanded in northern Latakia to other government- controlled towns.
Activists said the rebels have taken several buildings in Kasab, adding that the government troops have launched a counter- offensive and regained two police stations the rebels captured.
The rebels, mainly the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, have opted to open the northern front to cover for their losses in central and southern Syria, where the Syrian troops have stripped the rebels of key towns and cities in the central province of Homs and the countryside of the capital Damascus near the border with Lebanon.
Activists said the rebels are fighting in northern Latakia to open a route on the sea to receive weapon shipments after the Syrian troops had deprived them of key smuggling routes from Lebanon in the south.
They said that the Syrian air force is carrying out airstrikes against the Turkman Mountain north of Latakia against the militant groups.
The pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV said "very intensive clashes" have been ongoing in the Kasab, citing military sources as confirming that "the Turkish firing backup is persistent to secure the entry of the armed militant groups to the Syrian side of the borders and help evacuate the wounded rebels."
It said the army has waged a counteroffensive against the Naba al-Mur border point in Kasab backed by heavy artillery shelling.
Citing the Turkish Grand Strategy news paper, al-Mayadeen said "the aim of the attack in northern Syria is to eclipse the Syrian troops' advancement in the south."
Aside from the battles in Latakia, the rebels in the northern province of Aleppo also attacked several military positions in the government-controlled parts of Aleppo, amid local news said that Syrian air force carried out airstrikes to thwart the militants' attacks, striking their positions in several areas such as al- Lairamoun, Bani Zaid and the vicinity of the central prison of Aleppo.
In the countryside of Damascus, the Syrian troops ambushed a day earlier an armed militant group in an eastern suburb of Adra, according to Syria's mainstream media.
The militant group from the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front has snuck into Syria from neighboring Jordan, said the report, adding that the army troops had ambushed the group and eliminated its members in Adra. The ambushed group was trying to break the government troops' siege on rebel-held areas in eastern al-Ghouta suburb of Damascus, said the report.
The Syrian government has for long accused Turkey and other regional countries of supporting the armed militant groups in Syria. Most of those militants are affiliated with al-Qaida and other jihadist groups.
BEIRUT, March 23 (Xinhua) -- Clashes erupted at dawn Sunday between pro-Syrian gunmen and backers of the Syrian rebels near the Sports City center, with undefined number of casualties reported, the National News Agency (NNA) said.
The NNA said that clashes erupted between supporters of pro- Syrian Arab Movement leader Shaker Berjawi and Salafists supporters of the rebel movement against Syrian President Bashar Assad. Full story