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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Will Darayya Normalize the Expulsion of Civilians?

Will Darayya Normalize the Expulsion of Civilians?

With Iranian and Russian support Assad seems to be winning in the areas that matter most to him.
  • September 07, 2016 |
The rebellion west of Damascus is no more. After four years of fighting, the Syrian army retook rebel-held Darayya on August 25. Weeks of heavy combat, ceaseless bombardment, and a spiraling humanitarian crisis prompted by the government’s long-running blockade on humanitarian convoys finally brought Darayya’s defenders to their knees.
A deal was signed in which the rebels agreed to evacuate to northern Syria, along with a small number of civilians that had remained in the bombed-out city. Other civilians and fighters who had agreed to lay down their arms were bussed to government-controlled shelters in the Damascus region, but they were not allowed to remain in Darayya. As explained by the Century Foundation’s Sam Heller, both rebels and government loyalists see the city’s fall as highly symbolic:
The loss of Darayya is a watershed in Syria’s war. For many in Syria’s opposition, Darayya represented the best of the Syrian revolution—a bastion of civil activism and nationalist, “Free Syrian Army” rebels that held together and persevered for years against overwhelming odds, even as rebel-held areas elsewhere slid sideways into jihadism and factional infighting. For the regime of Bashar al-Assad and its loyalist base, Darayya was an intractable menace to the capital Damascus, sowing insecurity and violence only miles from the heart of the city and the Presidential Palace.

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