Syrian forces retake strategic town of Ariha
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Syrian forces have recaptured the strategic northern town of Ariha following heavy clashes with foreign-backed militants operating inside Syria. Syrian opposition sources said on Tuesday that government forces have gained the upper hand in battling militants and recaptured the key town in Latakia Province. The strategic coastal town is located near a major highway leading to the northern town of Idlib. The latest achievement has paved the way for reopening of a supply route between the coastal area and army-controlled areas in Idlib Province. This is while Syrian forces continue their operations against militants in nearby towns and mountains to take full control of the region. Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies - especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey - are supporting the militants operating inside the Arab country. On July 25, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said more than 100,000 people have been killed in Syria since the outbreak of the foreign-sponsored militancy in the country. A recent UN report says some 4.25 million people have been displaced inside Syria since the crisis began. Some 1.8 million Syrian have also fled the country over the past 12 months, and an average of 5,000 people continue to cross Syria's borders into neighboring countries every day, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said.