After seven years of war, Syrian government forces have taken full control of the area around their capital, Damascus, freeing up an overstretched military to move against the country’s few remaining rebel pockets.
The battle for Damascus ended this week with an offensive against the Islamic State group among the ruins of a former Palestinian refugee camp in the southern suburbs after other rebel forces were defeated in a nearby enclave. More than 1,000 civilians were killed in the campaign, according to monitoring groups.
The Syrian army announced that the last opposition fighters had left the Damascus suburbs, marking the culmination of a years-long march to victory there.
The armed opposition is now relegated to Idlib province in the north near the Turkish border and Daraa in the south near the Jordanian border. On Friday, Syrian aircraft dropped leaflets in the northern districts of Daraa, warning rebels to lay down their weapons or face an offensive there. [Continue reading…]