A mortar shell, fired by rebel fighters, explodes prematurely in the coastal city of Latakia June 8, 2014. REUTERS/Alaa Khweled
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The military, nervous about an incursion in a bastion of government support, dispatched reinforcements to blunt the rebel advance and eventually turn the tide.On Sunday, after months of bloody clashes, army troops backed by fighters from the Lebanese Shiite military group Hezbollah seized the seaside hamlet of Samra before also taking the village of Kassab and its adjacent border crossing, said Rami Abdurrahman, the director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Now in its fourth year, Syria's conflict has spilled far beyond the country's borders to shake the foundations of the Middle East.The militants have transferred some of that materiel to Syria to bolster their forces there.The Syrian air force has not targeted Islamic State territory with the same ferocity as it has other rebel factions. Abdurrahman said the Syrian military appeared to be wary of the Islamic State's possessing high-grade military equipment.
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