Aug. 12 - Several villages in Latakia, which is a stronghold of Syrian president Assad's Alawite sect, are overrun by Sunni Muslim insurgents. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
STORY: A rebel soldier takes aim from a window in Latakia -- the home province of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The offensive is being led by two al Qaeda-linked groups who have killed hundreds of people this month and driven hundreds more to seek refuge on the Mediterranean coast. The video, which can not be independently verified by Reuters, comes as residential neighborhoods have become war zones. The rebel advance into Alawite territory is a major gain for Assad's foes after months of setbacks. It highlights the challenge Assad faces in trying to restore his authority after two years of conflict that has killed 100,000 people and fragmented the country. Assad controls much of southern and central Syria, while rebels hold northern areas near the Turkish border and along the Euphrates valley towards Iraq. More footage shows the head of the Western backed Free Syrian Army on the ground in Latakia. Underfunded and fragmented, the Free Syrian Army has been overshadowed by hardline groups in the area, where the ideology may differ but the goal of ending Assad's regime is the same.