Russian jets in Syria pound Latakia ahead of fighting halt

BEIRUT – Russia bombed Syrian rebel-held areas in northwestern Syria on Thursday as government forces sought to take more ground at the Turkish border, ahead of a planned halt to fighting, which rebels predicted Damascus and Moscow would ignore.

“The regime wants to try to retake all of northern Latakia before Feb. 26,” said Fadi Ahmad, spokesman for the First Coastal Division rebel group, speaking to Reuters from the area.

“The battles are very fierce. Yesterday, there were heavy battles in the part of rural Latakia that is still with us,” he said, adding he did not expect the government or its Russian allies to abide by the truce: “Three minutes ago I saw a Russian plane in the sky hitting us here in rural Latakia.”

The Syrian military source also said operations were so far continuing in the northern Latakia area ahead of the cessation.



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