BOWING OUT: A coalition of rebel groups captured the regime stronghold of Busra a-Sham in southeastern Daraa province on Tuesday, allowing rebels to cut regime supply routes running between the provinces of Daraa and Suwayda.
The mixed Sunni-Shi’ite town—a UNESCO world heritage site—was the regime’s largest stronghold in southeastern Daraa.
The regime’s garrison in the town was reinforced by Shiite militias, fighters from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and National Defense Forces. Pictures posted from rebel Twitter accounts show rebels posing with a captured Hezbollah flag.
Rebels were able to take area of the town after they pushed regime forces out of the strategic Roman citadel in the center of the city.
Families flee from Busra a-Sham on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Suwayda News.
In five days of fighting for the town, the regime launched tens of air raids and barrel bombs on the city. A rebel commander said on Tuesday that regime planes were bombing “every eight minutes.”
A reporter for the pro-regime news channel Al-Mayadeen, confirmed rebel control of Busra al-Sham on his Facebook page, saying that the city had fallen “due to the retreat of some from their positions…and because the promised reinforcements did not arrive.”
In related news, regime forces began gathering families fleeing the fighting in Busra a-Sham at a checkpoint outside of a village in southwest Suwayda, reported pro-regime local news organization.
-March 25, 2015
-Photo courtesy of Busra a-Sham Free Women