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Syrian rebels battle deeper into LatakiaRebels pressed their offensive deeper into the heartland of Syrian President Bashar Assad's Alawite sect Wednesday, battling government troops backed by warplanes for control of at least two villages in the wooded and mountainous terrain, activists said. A Latakia-based activist who identified himself as Mohammad Abu al-Hasan said rebels were hoping that the offensive would draw more soldiers to the area, relieving some of the pressure on harried opposition fighters elsewhere in the country.Rebels were battling government troops in the Latakia villages of Qastal Maaf and Nabaain, activists said.The officer said thousands of rebels had participated in a Friday assault on Kasab, in fighting that had killed 50 soldiers and left hundreds of rebels dead.The Syrian commander said armed groups were in full control of Kasab, but that Syrian troops were still stationed in Nabaain as well as Qastal Maaf and engaged in heavy fighting there.The Syrian commander said the rebels moved on Observatory 45 after pounding the position for three days with mortars and artillery.
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