The northern Dara’a offensive has been a long time coming for the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and their allies inside this province; however, they finally achieved a significant victory in southern Syria after seizing the strategic city of Sheikh Miskeen on Monday evening.

Just 12 hours after declaring Sheikh Miskeen under their control, the Syrian Arab Army’s 15th and 12th brigades of the 5th Armored Division have linked up at the aforementioned city in order to begin their long-awaited assault on the key cities of Nawa and ‘Ibta in the Dara’a Governorate’s northern countryside.

According to a military source at the 5th Armored Division’s headquarters in the city of Izra’a, the Syrian Arab Air Force (SAAF) has already launched a dozen air raids over the cities of Nawa and ‘Ibta, as their allies on the ground get in position to strike from two different flanks.

All fingers seem to be pointing at the eastern hills of Nawa as the first assault for the Syrian Armed Forces; however, ‘Ibta is closer to the latter’s positions in Sheikh Miskeen, whereas Nawa is still a number of hills away.

What makes these cities strategic is their locations: Nawa is located just south of the rebel stronghold of Jassim and only a few kilometers away from the Al-Quneitra Governorate’s eastern border; meanwhile, ‘Ibta is located along the Sinamayn-Dara’a Highway, which could ultimately become a surrogate supply line for the government in the provincial capital if captured.

The loss of Sheikh Miskeen will hurt the rebels, but the loss of ‘Ibta and Nawa could mean bigger problems in the future if they don’t hold onto these cities.

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