The Syrian military, backed by Shi’ite militias, have attacked a series of villages in southeastern Syria today, in the area east of the city of Sweida. The Beduoin villages have been under the control of the Free Syrian Army since March, when they were seized by ISIS.
The area is sparsely populated, but would give Syria a greater foothold along the Syria-Iraq border, something they’ve long sought. The area is outside of the southwestern part of the country, where a ceasefire was implemented yesterday and remains in place.
It may be that the ceasefire is part of why this area is suddenly a target, as the Syrian military doesn’t need to have so many assets committed to the southeast anymore now that the fighting there has effectively stopped, and can move on to other areas of active conflict.
Rebel fighters complained that Syria never showed anywhere near this much interest in the area when it was held by ISIS. This is likely the case, since Syria didn’t have neighboring regions at the time, which would allow them a land route into Iraq, where Iraqi militias are now eager to cross the border to fight against ISIS.
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