Earlier today, the Syrian Arab Army 103rd Brigade and pro-government militias liberated a handful of villages from the Islamist fighters of Jabhat al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda) and the Free Syrian Army’s 1st Coastal Brigade in the rebel-held pocket west of Al-Rabi’yah. More specifically, the villages of Al-Huwlah, Darwishan, Al-Amlayk, Turus, Al-Tafahiyah and Arapli were captured by government troops.
Currently, the only village west of Al-Rabi’yah which remains under Islamist rebel control is Sharan – however, this village is likely to fall over the hours to come. Furthermore, the Syrian Arab Army has laid siege upon the Free Syrian Army’s stronghold of Al-Rabi’yah from three different axis while preliminary (unconfirmed) reports indicate that soldiers have already entered the outskirts of the town.
Last week, Jabhat al-Nusra fighters retreated from Salma which had long been considered their ‘capital’ in the Latakian countryside. Since then, more than a dozen villages have been conceded to the Syrian Arab Army with the rebel frontline near an utter collapse. If Al-Rabi’yah is to fall, this would spell certain defeat for rebels inside the province of Latakia as they would see themselves forced to retreat to Jisr al-Shibour inside Idlib governorate.