Exactly two hours ago, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) imposed full control over Tall Haddadeh in northeastern Lattakia after clashing with Islamist insurgents throughout the day.

Earlier today, government troops also took control of nearby al-Raqem hill & al-Mazaleh in what could easily be the initial phase of a large-scale offensive.

Remarkably, Tall Hadadah was captured by the SAA two weeks ago but since recaptured by Islamist rebels hours later.

Subsequently, the Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) 1st Coastal Division used the hill to carry out a TOW missile attack which killed 13 government soldiers and injured 11 more.

The hill top is now being secured by the National Defence Forces (NDF) who are expected to fortify the mountain as to avoid another rebel counter-offensive.

However, today’s government operation to seize Tall Haddadeh was carried out by the Syrian Marines and SAA’s Special Forces. These soldiers have now become Latakia’s assault troops.

Tall Haddadeh not only overlooks Turkey, but also the remaining rebel-held villages in the Latakia province, thereby making it an extremely significant high point.

If the SAA is to capture Latakia province, this will enable a major push into the heartland of the Syrian Opposition in Idlib.

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Student currently living in Denmark. Special focus on news from Syria, MENA map-making and strategical military analysis.

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