Syrian Rebels Have Captured The Birthplace Of The Revolution

EA WorldviewGREEN = rebel gains 2012; BLUE = rebel gains 2013; YELLOW = contestedA member of Syria’s government said that rebels have seized large parts of the country’s southern Daraa province, in an unusual outburst broadcast live on state television, Agence France-Presse reports.

“Syria is … plunged in total war,” Walid al-Zohbi, an MP from the southern province of Daraa, told parliament. “This is also happening in all towns and villages in Daraa, which is torn from east to west after the army withdrew from many positions … terrorists from al-Nusra Front have taken their place.”

Daraa is where the uprising first took root in March 2011 after teenagers were arrested for scrawling the Arab spring mantra “The people want the regime to fall” on a wall.

Hundreds of local men subsequently chanted “There is no fear, there is no fear, after today there is no fear!” in the street while government buildings burned and provincial security forces opened fire on marchers, killing five.

grafGraffiti in Daraa

Now rebels have captured Dael, a key town located on a main highway linking Damascus and the south, as acknowledged by a member of the government.

“From the south, we are totally exposed,” Zohbi said. “There are people who send reports claiming the Daraa highway has been secured, but it’s not true.”

Some MPs tried to silence Zohbi as he spoke on live TV, but he kept speaking. “The area stretching from Khirbet Ghazaleh to the border crossing is under the control of armed groups,” he added.

James Miller of EA Worldview notes that if Dael is held by the rebels, they “can push into the northern districts of the provincial capital [of Daraa City]” on their way to Damascus.

“The idea is that the rebels now have the necessary means to advance from different fronts — north from Turkey and south from Jordan — to close in on Damascus to unseat Assad,” a military official told The Associated Press.

The gains near the Jordanian border, which is about 60 miles from Damascus, certainly bolster the rebel advance on the capital, the downtown of which has been shelled more intensely in recent weeks.

syriaA Stratfor map of the area surrounding Damascus as of mid-February

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