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Syrian Forces Reportedly Capture Key Rebel-Held Town

Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are reported to have retaken a key rebel-held town in the western coastal province of Latakia.

State TV announced the capture of Rabiya on January 24, which was confirmed as well by a Britain-based monitoring group.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the advance was backed by Russian air strikes and was directed partly by Russian officers. It would likely allow pro-government forces to push right up to the Turkish border, the monitor said.

Earlier this month, pro-government forces recaptured Salma, another town in Latakia's northern countryside, in one of the most significant gains since Russia intervened in the war.

Moscow intervened in Syria's civil war on the side of President Bashar al-Assad in September. The conflict, which broke out after an uprising in 2011, has killed an estimated 250,000 people and displaced a further 11 million.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP