Syrian rebels and their allies the jihadist Al-Nusra Front on Saturday withdrew from Kassab, a strategic village on the border with Turkey they seized in March, a monitoring group said, the AFP reports.
Most fighters from Al-Nusra and the other rebel groups pulled out, “leaving behind only a small number” of men, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime sent tanks to nearby villages, signalling an imminent army advance on the border town.
The rebels pulled back as regime forces backed by pro-regime fighters, among them members of the powerful Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, advanced on the nearby village of Nabaein, the Observatory said.
Activists confirmed the account, adding the rebel fighters and the Al-Nusra Front, the Syrian Al-Qaeda affiliate, withdrew to rebel strongholds in the Jabal al-Akrad area.
Kasab, an Armenian town, is strategically important because it is located near the only border crossing with Turkey in sensitive Latakia province, the heartland of the Alawite sect from which Assad hails.
When the crossing fell from government hands in March, it was the last functioning border post with Turkey to slip from army control.