Syria Rebels Make Major Gains

Villages in Assad heartland captured
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 5, 2013 11:29 PM CDT
Syrian government forces captured a historic mosque in the central city of Homs on Saturday, expelling rebel forces who had been in control of the 13th century landmark for more than a year.   (AP Photo/SANA)
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(Newser) – After weeks of losing territory to Bashar al-Assad's forces, Syrian rebels have scored two major victories against the regime. In northern Syria, rebels captured a major air base after almost a year of trying, capturing tanks and soldiers despite air raids from government warplanes, reports the New York Times, which notes that the victory is certain to boost morale in an opposition beset by infighting.

In Latakia, the coastal heartland of Assad's Alawite sect, rebels have captured four villages, stepping up a push into a region that has previously seen little fighting, the AP reports. But the regime has victories of its own to celebrate: The country's defense minister talked of a "military miracle" yesterday as he toured a district in the central city of Homs now in government hands after more than a year of rebel control.

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