Hours ago, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), heavily aided by Russian airstrikes, was able to impose full control over the city of Sheikh Meskin in the Daraa governorate of southern Syria. Effectively, rebels have been forced to abandon the city and flee southwest to a river on the perimeter of Sheikh Meskin.

This serves as a vital blow to rebels who otherwise have seen their forces make steady gains in the countryside of Daraa during the past two years. To add insult to injury, government troops stationed at the provincial capital of Daraa have also advanced deep inside the previously rebel-held district of Daraa al-Balad during the past weeks.

Strategically, the SAA is attempting to regain control of the M5-highway which links Daraa with the Syrian capital of Damascus. Currently, government troops are forced to use the railway and some minor country roads to bring in supplies to soldiers and civilians inside the government-held part of Daraa city.

The last rebel-held towns along the highway are Dael and Abtaa which have both had their eastern entrance besieged by government troops. If these are recaptured by the SAA, the road will be re-opened and supplies will be transported to Daraa city much more cost-effectively.

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Student currently living in Denmark. Special focus on news from Syria, MENA map-making and strategical military analysis.

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