The grandparents had returned to their apartment in May, finding it looted and burned. Rebels initially capture the Kasab border crossing and its strategic town, Syrian Army units and allied militias diverted to Latakia from Idlib, Hama and the ongoing, Observatory 45 hill changes hands several times before being captured by the Army, Government forces stall further rebel advances, This page was last edited on 24 December 2020, at 10:18. He wasn’t crying for his dead father, Um Fares said. Without government reconstruction funds, rebuilding depended on the depths of individual pockets. While journalists were barred from visiting Gözlekçiler, Ediboğlu said he personally observed "dozens of Syrian-plated cars nonstop transporting terrorists and firing into the Syrian outpost from the military road between Gözlekçiler village and our military base at Kayapinar. Two and a half years after what everyone we met called the liberation of rebel-held eastern Aleppo, electricity still came primarily from generators. [160][161] On 25 July the St. Astvatsatsin Church in Garaturan was reconsecrated, with the first liturgy since the ending of the Islamist occupation taking place on 27 July, the day of Vardavar, and attended by a large number of people [162], Coordinates: .mw-parser-output .geo-default,.mw-parser-output .geo-dms,.mw-parser-output .geo-dec{display:inline}.mw-parser-output .geo-nondefault,.mw-parser-output .geo-multi-punct{display:none}.mw-parser-output .longitude,.mw-parser-output .latitude{white-space:nowrap}35°56′00″N 35°59′00″E / 35.9333°N 35.9833°E / 35.9333; 35.9833, Collapse of Islamic State in Syria (April – Nov. 2017), Syrian War spillover and international incidents, Foreign involvement in the Syrian Civil War, Capture of Al-Samra and the battle for the hills, Samantha Power Questioned About Kessab, Syria by Rep. Schiff, Minister Of Diaspora: Armenian Churches Were Defaced In Kessab. Moscow has long backed Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in his nine-year-old war against rebels. According to Rana, our minder, its people never slept. With opposition groups having taken both nearby Jisr al-Shughour and Idlib, about an hour away by car, residents of the strategically important city of Latakia are girding for a potential battle.. Latakia is Syria’s primary seaport in the northwest region. The Syria we saw was missing a middle class, its members having fled or fallen down the economic ladder. [108], On 3 April, according to the SOHR, rebels managed to regain control over the buildings of Observatory 45 after they were captured by pro-government fighters during the night. Our tablecloth was smudged; so were the murals of old Aleppo on the walls. [5] At this time, Barnabas Aid stated 80 Christian civilians were killed and thousands more displaced after rebel fighters captured Kasab;[96] however, a delegation from the Armenian National Assembly visited and interviewed refugees from Kessab who fled to Latakia and concluded that "fortunately, no casualties were reported on the Armenian side," though around 2500 were displaced. [95] The Turkish Army stated that they had returned fire after mortar shells and a rocket struck areas near the town of Yayladagi. Here in the Tohmes’ living room, it felt ungrateful to refuse. [94], On 29 March, Al-Nab'in was once again reported under rebel control, but with fighting continuing in its outskirts. “Street War” Facebook activist news outlets supportive of the Bashar al-Assad regime painted a grim picture of the chaos of the unprecedented Latakia clashes. [140] The SOHR reported the military was moving towards nearby villages,[141] including Al-Nab'in,[142] while state TV already reported the capture of the town. Staggering war debts, financial turmoil in neighboring Lebanon and tough international sanctions have all factored into the country’s economic woes.. In Damascus, the capital, a gleaming $310 million mall, built during the war not far from a mountain where government forces once launched artillery shells at rebel territory, echoed with the clacking of high-heeled shoppers. “I hope we all become martyrs for the country.”, A mother, Zakiya Ahmad Hassan, showed us the plastic chair where she often sat next to her son’s stone tomb, drinking coffee and singing to him. An operation in August 2011 was launched to end rebellion, and was successful. The Syrian government has barred many of our New York Times colleagues and other news media outlets for reporting that it considers overly critical, and it had taken the three of us — me, a correspondent based in Beirut; my Lebanese interpreter; and an American photographer, Meridith Kohut — nearly half a year to obtain entry. Latakia: Syria's seaside party town On the coast of Syria CNN's Fred Pleitgen explores Latakia, where the beach resorts and nightclubs help some escape the war. In the government stronghold of Latakia, on … More than eight in 10 people are now living in poverty, making less than $3.10 a day per person. Between Thursday and Sunday, at least 156 wildfires were reported in the coastal regions of Latakia and Tartus as well as the central Homs province, according to the UN Office for the … You had the best food, the best.”, The owner, Abdel Ghani Mahmoud, didn’t recognize him at first. COVID 19 total cases discovered so far in Syria have reached 8787 cases, the Syrian Ministry of Health stated that in the past 24 hours 112 new cases of COVID 19 have been discovered, the highest number of cases discovered in one day since the first case discovered, 11 cases died, and 60 cases recovered. [131] Two days later, government forces were fighting rebels on Jabal al-Nisr mountain, near Al-Nab'in, and on three hills overlooking Kasab in an attempt to capture the hilly terrain before engaging opposition forces in the towns themselves. The Citadel of Aleppo is under the 1986 UNESCO world heritage sites. [115], On 5 April, after midnight, government troops ambushed rebels on the road towards Al-Nab'in resulting in a number of deaths among opposition fighters,[105] while two Moroccan field commanders of Ahrar Al-Sham were killed in fighting in Kasab. War has settled into an eerie rhythm in this part of Syria. [101] The SOHR confirmed the Army made progress in the area[102] and stated that government troops managed to install multiple rocket launcher on Observatory 45, but fighting was continuing in the vicinity of the hillside. [34], The Syrian government called on the United Nations to halt the Turkish involvement in the Kasab region. But more than a year after the government broke the rebel hold there with a siege that reduced people to eating grass, much of the city remained nearly uninhabitable. And with so many men gone, this task has been left to the old, the very young and, especially, the women — including women from conservative families who are now working for the first time. Queen Zenobia led one of the largest revolts in history against the roman empire. [27] According to the rebel Islamic Front, he was killed when they used Grad rockets to hit a scheduled meeting of pro-government militia leaders in Latakia city. The provincial governor, Ibrahim Kohdr al-Salem, was eager to stress that the government was devoting more resources to veterans’ families. [43], On 12 June, the military started a new offensive[137] and by the next day captured Hills 714, 767[138] and 803. [13] Meanwhile, Turkish media claimed the leader of the pro-government Syrian Resistance militia, Mihraç Ural, had been killed the previous day. In a rare public appearance, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad inspected the destruction caused by the recent wildfires in the coastal province of Latakia, state media outlets reported on Tuesday. [42] After almost two months of fighting, the offensive stalled and eventually petered out, with rebels losing most of their early gains. “It’s the same,” Abu Abdo said. “Assad Forever,” proclaimed a banner featuring Mr. Assad’s image, one of many strung over Syrian roads. Syrian state media and Arabic TV channel Al Mayadeen reported that the attack came from the sea. Most likely there were drones and missiles involved," Sputnik News' source said. Without government reconstruction funds, rebuilding depends on the depths of individual pockets. Most people we met watched what they said, closing their lips against talk of the past or future, their heads bent in the daily task of survival. But without his job, so was food. It accused the Turkish government for "organizing, receiving, funding and hosting tens of thousands of terrorists from various Takfiri movements and facilitating their entry into the Syrian territories" and for providing the rebels with direct military support in the region. [28][70] However, that evening Mihraç Ural posted a video on his Facebook account denying rumors of his death. A man selling watermelon in front of buildings destroyed by government forces in eastern Aleppo. [149] Istanbul-based journalist Amberin Zaman commented that the recently leaked audio tapes in which Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is heard discussing ways to spark a war with Syria might vindicate Kilicdaroglu's claims. [49] Subsequently, the civilian populations of Kessab and its surrounding villages either fled or were evacuated, with most seeking safety in Latakia, as Kessab remained under the control of rebel groups. [56] According to the opposition activist group the SOHR, rebels at the crossing had been targeted by government troops since the previous day. God forgive whoever was behind this.”, Then she burst out: “Forgive them, don’t forgive them, what difference does it make? Just hours after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s speech vowing victory over the rebels and “terrorist” groups in several areas of the country, those groups have launched a major offensive on the Latakia countryside in northwest Syria, the regime's stronghold. I had a husband. The minders were eager to show us that life was returning to normal. The fighters reportedly crossed into Syria from the Turkish village of Gözlekçiler. Khaled worked at a blacksmith’s, making about a sandwich’s worth of wages a day. “He was defending the country.”. Zenobia became queen of the Palmyrene Empire in 267, conquered Egypt until 271. At one army checkpoint we passed, there were no fewer than 13 Assads, their gazes all pointing in different directions like a cluster of security cameras. Palmer filed this report from Latakia - … Looting, burning, cutting: How a decade of war has shrunk Syria’s forests No more swimming in Latakia; Syrians are strangers in their own country Podcast “Thawriyya”: An enduring revolution for Syrian women activists The minister also said that in Kessab, Armenian churches had been defaced, crosses on the churches had been removed, Armenian shops and homes had been looted. The Turkish F-16's intercepted four Syrian aircraft approaching Turkish airspace in Yayladagi and Cilvegozu of Hatay province in southern Turkey before the incident occurred. [106], On 2 April, according to the SOHR, the rebels reached the perimeter of al-Badrousiya village where violent clashes took place amid new Army reinforcements in that area. But safety had proved elusive for Um Ahmad, 28, who was sitting on her stoop with her sister at dusk, surrounded by shattered buildings. [61] Opposition sources claimed that over 20 soldiers surrendered to the rebels in the village of Nab Al-Murr after a three-hour siege on a building. Latakia, however, has remained quiet throughout the conflict in Syria. The sparks and chemicals irritated his eyes. [47] Kessab Armenians who phoned their neighbors and relatives homes from Latakia discovered that their houses are already occupied by rebel fighters, who went on to taunt and threaten the refugees. Areas in Latakia near the border to Idlib were dominated by the jihadist group HTS. She and her husband were raising 11 orphaned grandchildren in a largely abandoned building. Islamic Front[3], Lt. Gen. Ali Abdullah Ayyoub (Army Chief of staff)[19]Hilal al-Assad † (Latakia NDF commander)[27], 571 killed (opposition claim)[33]50 killed (government claim; by 26 March)[34], Foreign intervention in behalf of Syrian Rebels, The 2014 Latakia offensive was a rebel offensive in the Latakia Governorate of Syria launched on 21 March 2014 by rebel Islamist groups including Al-Nusra Front, which called the offensive "Anfal",[1] while a coalition of Supreme Military Council rebel groups called the offensive "The Martyrs Mothers". [49], Mehmet Ali Ediboğlu, MP of Turkish CHP party, who visited the area several days after the attack began, said locals told him that "thousands of fighters coming from Turkey crossed the border at at least five different points to launch the attack on Kassab." Other pro-government villages were also shelled with mortars. [114] Meanwhile, the Turkish Army fired shells into Syria, responding to six shells that landed in Yayladadi. The 2014 Latakia offensive was a rebel offensive in the Latakia Governorate of Syria launched on 21 March 2014 by rebel Islamist groups including Al-Nusra Front, which called the offensive "Anfal", while a coalition of Supreme Military Council rebel groups called the offensive "The Martyrs Mothers". [146], It was reported that the attackers, members of the al-Nusra Front, Sham al-Islam, and Ansar al-Sham, advanced directly from the village of Gözlekçiler on Turkish territory, were being supported by the Turkish military, and that injured rebel fighters were being sent to medical centres in Turkey. [19] Eight rebels and eight pro-government fighters were killed and 15 wounded in the fighting at Observatory 45. [98] Among the dead were 27 Army officers and 56 foreign rebel fighters. We had to pull over four times on the highway because their car kept breaking down; apparently, car maintenance wasn’t in the budget. In nearby Douma, which was rebel-held for most of the war, running water was still more aspiration than reality. [130] The Army further captured Heights 959 and 1017. Assad’s ancestral hometown, Qardahah, is a … Before the war, Aleppo was Damascus’s greatest rival, the country’s biggest city and its commercial engine. His image rippled on banners at the entrances to recaptured cities. Syrian-Armenian war correspondent Sarkis Kassargian believes taking control of Kessab means taking control of the border crossing with Turkey, which allows anti-government fighters to advance toward the coastline, and in turn strengthen their position on the ground. [66] Rebel jihadists reportedly took Armenian families hostage in Kasab and desecrated the town's three Armenian churches. [34] A military officer claimed rebels had been pushed back from Observatory 45, but were still in nearby areas. [24] A local rebel commander was also killed in other clashes, while "dozens of bodies" of pro-government fighters were reportedly bussed to the city of Tartous, according to opposition activist's claims. At dinnertime our first night in Aleppo, our driver, Abu Abdo, said he knew a few places to eat near our hotel from his prewar days taking tourists to the city. Russia has an air base in Latakia. “Should we lie? Three of her sons had been killed. [29] The fall of the Observatory removed the threat of artillery strikes against Jabal al-Nisr and the rebels were able to occupy its peak. [48], In the early hours of 21 March 2014, rebel fighters led by the al-Nusra Front advanced from inside Turkish territory and attacked the Kasab border crossing with Turkey. She wanted her daughters to work when they finished school, she said, “so they don’t face what I faced.”. “We rediscovered the Gospel as being a message of hope in the middle of crisis,” Hanna says of ministering during war. Zakiya Ahmad Hassan buried her son, Firas Mahmoud Ismail, in the backyard of their family home. For all the seven years they’d lived underground, sometimes going days at a time without food or water, she had refused to unroll it, awaiting the day they came home again. 50 soldiers were also wounded[111][112] and among rebel fatalities, beside the leader of Harakat Sham al-Islam, was the group's Egyptian military commander, Abu Safiya Al-Masri. [99], During the day, government forces made an attempt to advance towards Kasab as the rebel offensive started to stagnate[100] and state TV made a live report from near the hilltop of Observatory 45 claiming the Army had recaptured it. Iran raises Cain in Ankara", "المرصد السوري لحقوق الإنسان الصفحة الرئيسية آخر الأخبار والتقارير عن سوريا والثورة السورية", "most of 8000 between the gunman dead and injured toll losses opposition Brive Latakia! Latakia: Syria's seaside party town On the coast of Syria CNN's Fred Pleitgen explores Latakia, where the beach resorts and nightclubs help some escape the war. The governorate was historically part of the Alawite State, which existed from 1920–1936.It was formerly part of Latakia governorate, but was split off circa 1972. [121] The next day, the Army recaptured Chalma mountain (also known as Sal-Darin mountain), near Kassab, while heavy clashes were still taking place near Observatory 45. [13] Pro-government sources claimed 500 rebels[29] and 50 soldiers had been killed since the start of the offensive, while the SOHR stated around 100 fighters on each side had died. Abdoullah Ali, an expert on Islamic groups in Syria, confirmed the takeover was headed by Abou Mousa al-Chechani (Chechnyan), among other senior and experienced fighters who had previously fought in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya and Iraq, thus indicating the importance of this battle. A woman we met in a salon told us she was getting her first professional haircut since the war began. [147] Some 670 Armenian families, the majority of the population of Kessab, were evacuated by the local Armenian community leadership to safer areas in neighboring Basit and Latakia. (In Arab tradition, many women are known as “Um,” or “mother of” their eldest son, while men often go by “Abu,” or “father of.” Most people were cautious about giving us their full names.). I started eating and immediately forgot about refrigeration. Young men and a middle class. [59] Turkish officials, however, claimed it violated their airspace. 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