March 24, 2014 10:34 AM EDT

Rebels seized the small town of Kassab on Sunday, taking a strategic area in northeastern Syria near the border of Turkey.

The area is known as being a stronghold for Syrian President Bashar Assad. The rebel fighters who captured it came from a range of armed opposition groups including the Nusra Front, the Associated Press reports, which has strong links with al-Qaeda

The Kassab offensive came as a welcome morale boost to rebels fighting against the Assad regime, as they had suffered a string of recent battlefield defeats when forces linked to Assad captured towns near Syria’s border with Lebanon.

In a video posted online, two opposition fighters were shown standing on a roof near a smashed statue, supposedly of Assad’s late father.


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