* An opposition military offensive in Syria’s northwestern Latakia province continued on Sunday, with opposition activists releasing a video showing Islamist factions seizing control of the Kasab border crossing with Turkey. Prior to the seizure, Kasab had been the last remaining border crossing between Syria and Turkey under government control, according to pro-opposition Smart News. Opposition activists published a list of specific areas “liberated” by rebel fighters in the town of Kasab, with opposition fighters taking the checkpoint after a series of attacks on its outskirts during which they claimed the surrounding hillsides. For its part, pro-Assad Syrian daily al-Watan reported Sunday that regime forces had reasserted their controlover two police stations along the Turkish-Syrian border. The fighting comes as Islamist battalions, among them Jabhat a-Nusra, announcedSaturday the start of a campaign they are calling “the Battle of Anfal.”
Rebels captured the Kasab border crossing in Latakia province this weekend. Photo courtesy of The Battle of Anfal.
* Pro-regime media reported Sunday that Syrian government forces had ambushed a group of Jabhat a Nusra fighters traveling from the Syrian-Jordanian border to the industrial city of Adra. Opposition sources have stayed silent on the events, but Islamic Front political chief Mohammad Alloush published a warning regarding a possible ambush in East Ghouta on Friday. Pro- and anti-Assad forces have for months fought for control of Adra, which lies roughly 25 km northeast of Damascus along the strategically vital highway linking Damascus with northern Syria. East Ghouta has been under a stifling government blockade for over 18 months, with the Syrian government laying mines and installing cameras along the roads in and out of the area.
* Deputy Secretary General of the League of Arab States Ahmed bin Hali announced this weekend that Syria’s seat “will remain vacant” at the Arab League summit slated to take place in Kuwait on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. The Arab League granted Syria’s seat to the opposition Syrian National Coalition at a summit in Doha last year, but has declined to do the same this year following an official complaint from Damascus that granting the country’s seat to the Coalition is in violation of Arab League statutes. Coalition head Ahmad Jarba will, however, deliver a speech at the summit, and bin Hali announced that Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi will continue to dialogue with the Coalition about Syria’s seat following the summit. The summit follows widespread protests on Friday against Jarba’s leadership of the coalition, with an activist group called the Syrian Grassroot Movement claiming to have rallied 40,000 Syrians in 58 cities to demonstrate against Jarba, who it said has “caused unprecedented levels of division and polarization amongst Syrian opposition.