Rebels are shelling areas close to Syrian President Bashar al—Assad’s hometown in the Latakia province of northwestern Syria, a monitoring group said Monday.

“Since the early hours of Monday, Syrian rebels have been shelling the area between Jablaa and Qardaha,” Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain—based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told dpa.

Rebels have increased their efforts against the Syrian regime in the north west of the country in recent weeks. The region is the heartland of al—Assad’s minority Alawite sect.

Abdel Rahman said the rockets also fell close to Bassel al—Assad International Airport, an airport serving Latakia. The airport is named after Bassel al—Assad, brother of President Bashar al—Assad, who was killed in a car accident in Damascus in 1994.

Qardaha — a village in a mountainous area in the north west of the country — has a predominantly Alawite population and is the hometown of the al—Assad family which has ruled Syria since 1970.

It is known for its is luxurious villas, largely owned by members of the al—Assad family. It has a mausoleum containing the grave of former leader Hafez al—Assad, the father of Syria’s current president.

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