BEIRUT — Clashes between Syrian rebels and forces loyal to President Bashar Assad are spreading in a key coastal area near the Turkish border, activists said Tuesday.

An activist who goes by the name of Abu Salah al-Hafawi said an array of Islamic rebels groups were fighting government troops near the seaside tourist village of Samra.

Rami Abdurrahman of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also confirmed the information.

Tuesday’s fighting comes after rebels seized the town of Kassab and a nearby border crossing with the same name, severing one of the government’s last links to the Turkish border.

Al-Hafawi said if rebels take Samra, they will gain access to the sea for the first time in the conflict, now in its fourth year. He spoke from near Samra via Skype.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.