BEIRUT — The capture of Eastern Ghouta is a significant milestone for Syria’s regime and paves the way for government troops to shift south to where the seven-year uprising first began: Daraa.
After securing the capital from deadly rockets that once rained in from its suburbs, President Bashar Assad now has forces ready to redeploy elsewhere in the war-ravaged country.
“The liberation of Eastern Ghouta means lifting the security and military threat posed to Damascus,” says Bassam Abou Abdallah, who heads the Damascus Centre for Strategic Studies.
“After Ghouta, it’s likely the Syrian government will head south — the current situation in Daraa must be finished off,” he tells AFP.
The vast Daraa province lies south of Damascus and also shares borders with Jordan and Israel’s Golan Heights.
Non-jihadist rebels, backed by the United States and Jordan, hold nearly three-quarters of it and parts of the provincial capital, also called Daraa.
Analysts say Assad’s regime will have to avoid any escalation with Israel.
“The areas in the south of Syria are particularly sensitive because they are located between Damascus on the one hand, and the Jordanian and Israeli borders on the other,” analyst Sam Heller says.
“Any military action could affect the national security of the three countries,” says the researcher at the International Crisis Group.