The Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) military command chief Salim Idriss told Al Arabiya on Monday that the FSA is fighting against regime troops, not Alawite civilians, in the coastal province of Latakia.
He said that there would be no revenge operations against the coast’s citizens of any sects, adding that the FSA would provide all Alawites with security and protection.
Idriss visited Latakia, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s main stronghold, on Sunday.
His statement comes a week after rebels launched a “battle to liberate the coast.” They have since progressed and taken control of 11 majority Alawite villages, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog.
The area is particularly sensitive because it is home to a mixed population of Sunni Muslims, who make up the majority of Syria’s population, and members of the Alawite community, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.
The rebels have made limited progress in Latakia as the regime is firmly in control of the majority of the coastal province barring pockets of the Jabal al-Akrad and Jabal Turkman areas in the northeast.
However, activist groups said on Monday the FSA is resuming its operations in Latakia and Hama provinces, adding that the FSA shelled a regime site near Aleppo’s International Airport.
The groups also said regime forces killed 17 people in Aleppo’s al-Jamajma neighborhood on Monday.
They added that Assad’s forces had conducted air raids over some areas in the city of Deir ez-Zour in eastern Syria.
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