Earlier today, Syrian government troops captured the northern Daraa suburb of Itman after a three-day long battle that overwhelmed local rebels forces. Furthermore, ten days ago, the Syrian Arab Army’s 15th Brigade of the 5th Armored Division – in close coordination with the National Defense Forces and the 7th Mechanized Division – finally managed to capture the city of Sheikh Meskin (Shaykh Miskin) after a costly battle in southern Syria that brought many casualities upon Islamist rebels as well as government troops.
Due to the capture of the aforementioned towns, the government could possibly reopen the strategic M5-highway that runs by Damascus through Sheikh Meskin onto Daraa city in the near future. Nevertheless, Islamist have entrenched themselves at the rebel-held towns of Da’el and ‘Ibta which must be captured prior to reopening the M5 highway. Formerly, the government relied upon the old Jezreel Valley railway, the M1-highway as well as several minor roads as to bring supplies and ammunitions to Daraa city.
The provincial capital of Daraa, the scene of the earliest protests against the Syrian government in 2011, contains routes crucial to both the Syrian army and rebel fighters. While rebel fighters inside Daraa city receive regular reinforcements and supplies from Jordan, the Syrian Government has come under increasing pressure due to a narrow supply line from Damascus city caused by a several rebel offensive in 2013 and 2014. However, with the government capture of Sheikh Meskin and ‘Itman, the Syrian Arab Army has once again gained momentum in southern Syria.