Assad’s cousin killed in Latakia clashes
A Syrian military official, who is also a cousin of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has been killed on Sunday amid clashes with rebels near the border with Turkey, state news agency SANA reported.
Hilal al-Assad, the head of Syria’s National Defense paramilitary forces for the northwestern province of Latakia, was killed in fierce fighting Latakia’s border town of Kasab.
The National Defense Force is a militia set up to support the army in its three-year battle with rebels seeking to overthrow Bashar al-Assad.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights was quoted by Reuters as saying that Hilal was killed along with seven of his fighters in clashes with al-Nusra Front and other Islamist miltant groups.
Syrian troops and rebels have been fighting for control of Kasab since Friday.
The battle erupted after three jihadist groups announced the launch of an offensive in Latakia, known to be a regime stronghold.
Earlier in the day, Turkey shot down a warplane near the border town, raising tensions between rival Syrian factions.
At least 80 fighters on both sides have been killed in the battle of Kasab, reported Agence France-Presse.