Syria Sees Retaking Saraqeb as a Strategic and Symbolic Victory

Early rebel stronghold was out of govt control for eight years

Last week, the Syrian Army reclaimed the small town of Saraqeb, chasing out al-Qaeda from an area that was one of the earlier rebel strongholds and had been out of government control since 2011.

That’s a very important symbolic victory, reflecting the outright collapse of a secular rebellion that had finally lost the town to al-Qaeda, and the growing collapse of al-Qaeda as the military reclaims territory.

Even better than the symbolism is the practical use of the area, as Saraqeb is along the vital highway connecting Aleppo and Damascus. The highway winds through now almost entirely government-controlled parts of Idlib.

Locals weren’t happy with al-Qaeda’s Sharia courts, and may not be entirely comfortable with the return of the military. Still, many are hopeful that the ouster of the Islamists will eventually give way to post-war reforms.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of