London Telegraph 
August 12, 2013
Syrian rebels have pushed deep into the coastal Alawite stronghold for the first time, seizing a string of villages in a campaign which, locals have warned, threatens to open the area up to full-blown sectarian war.
“We are still finding people who were killed in their homes, and bodies left in bushes,” said Sheikh Mohammed Reda Hatem, an Alawite religious leader in Latakia. “Until now 150 Alawites from the villages have been kidnapped. There are women and children among them. We have lost all contact with them.”
After suffering a string of recent military defeats, in the central Syrian province of Homs, the rebels were looking to hit Assad “where it hurts most”, opposition sources said.
At one point the fighting came within 12 miles of Mr Assad’s ancestral village of Qardaha.