DAMASCUS, March 25 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian army on Tuesday thwarted rebels' offensive against a key military observation site in the northwestern province of Latakia, inflicting hefty losses upon the rebels, Syria's state media said.
The army foiled the attack on the 45 Observatory, a military observation tower on a high hill atop the al-Turkman mountain in Kasab, the report said. The attackers were forced to retreat toward the northeast under heavy fire from government troops.
The clashes in Latakia's rugged coastal regions have been incessant since Friday, mainly in the contested town of Kasab bordering Turkey.
The rebels waged their attack from the Turkish side of the borders, unleashing a wide-scale offensive to strip government troops of the Kasab border crossing. They have reportedly controlled it.
While Syria's official media said the troops had thwarted the rebels' attack against the 45 Observatory, opposition activists said Turkey-backed militant groups succeeded to capture it and the town of Kasab. Reports also said that the Syrian troops had re- positioned to keep the rebels from stretching their attacks outside Kasab.
Activists said the rebels' success in storming the strategic site was because of a suicide bomber who drove a booby-trapped armored vehicle and detonated it at the observatory on Tuesday afternoon. That allowed other rebels to break and capture the tower which is deemed important and used by the regular army to bombard rebel-held towns in north Latakia.
Local media said the clashes in the vicinity of the observatory are still ongoing.
The rebels unleashed the battle in the north to cover for their recent losses in central and south Syria.