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Activists: Syrian warplanes strike key coastal province where rebels have made inroads

Activists say Syrian planes have bombed rebel positions in the coastal province of Latakia, where opposition fighters have been making gains while battling government troops for six straight days.

The area is the heartland of President Bashar Assad's Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says government aircraft Thursday dropped several barrel bombs on a hilltop area known as Observatory 45.

The Local Coordination Committees, a Syria-based opposition group that also documents the conflict, reported two government airstrikes on the strategic post.

Following the start of their push in Latakia on Friday, rebels from several Islamic groups, including an al-Qaida-affiliate, seized a border crossing with Turkey. This week they also gained a tiny outlet to the sea, the first time in the conflict.