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Syrian Rebels Fight to the Mediterranean and Head Straight to the Beach

Syrian opposition fighters reached the sea after three years of conflict on Tuesday. So they went swimming, posed, and took videos.
March 27, 2014, 11:45am
Screengrab via Ansar al-Sham

A day after seizing their first strip of coastline, in the Latakia province of Syria, opposition rebels clashed with government forces as they moved to expand their presence in what, during peacetime, was one of Syria’s most beautiful vacation destinations.

Reaching the Mediterranean for the first time in more than three years of fighting on Tuesday, the rebels did what anyone would — they headed to the water, took a dip, and posted selfie videos of themselves on the rocky shore.

The videos below show opposition fighters at Samra, once a popular beach near the border with Turkey.

Video uploaded by rebels shows them at Samra beach, which they seized from government forces on Tuesday.

But the rebels’ seaside vacation is unlikely to last long.

The Latakia region is home to President Bashar al-Assad’s minority Alawite sect, and government forces retain control of the hills surrounding the rebels’ newly gained ground, making the fighters easy targets.

The Syrian regime is accused of bombarding civilians with "barrel bombs"

On Wednesday, the two groups fought in Qastal Maaf, a largely Armenian Christian — and pro-Assad — town, just a few kilometers from the Kassab border crossing rebels conquered earlier this week.

'The regime can't imagine losing the sea. They will bring reinforcements.'

A fighter told the Associated Press that rebels pushed into the area in an attempt to draw more Syrian troops there, and relieve fighters facing increasing government pressure in other parts of the country.

“The thinking is to open a battle that will make the regime rush to fight,'' Abu al-Hassan told the AP. “The regime can't imagine losing the sea [of Latakia]. They will bring reinforcements.”

Europe is failing Syrian refugees

In the video below, rebels tear down a poster of Assad in the village of Samra.

Footage uploaded by rebels shows them tearing down a poster of Assad in the coastal village of Samra, on Tuesday.

Follow Alice Speri on Twitter: @alicesperi