- Government forces in southern Syria have advanced along the Jordanian border and seized a string of villages
- The Syrian army and allies in Daraa province arrived at the frontier on Thursday
BEIRUT: Syrian government forces seized control of the Nassib border crossing with Jordan on Friday, a military news service run by the Lebanese group Hezbollah said, after Russia concluded a surrender agreement with rebels in the area.Government forces in south Syria have advanced along the Jordanian border, seizing a string of villages, and will soon reach the strategic Nasib border crossing, a pro-Damascus commander said on Friday.
The Syrian army and allies in Daraa province arrived at the frontier on Thursday and “within a short period of time, they will reach the crossing,” the commander in the regional alliance that backs Damascus told Reuters.From second city Aleppo all the way down to the border with Jordan, Syria’s longest highway cuts through fertile fields of green, buzzing industrial zones and four major cities.
With government forces now holding a vast majority of the M5’s 450 kilometers (280 miles), analysts say the highway traces two years of a winning military strategy by President Bashar al-Assad and his allies.
The “international road”, as it’s known to Syrians, begins in the country’s industrial heart Aleppo, which Assad’s forces recaptured in late 2016.
Last year, under an accord between Iran, Turkey and Russia, international monitors began deploying along the M5 stretch that runs through Idlib province, isolating it from surrounding rebel territory.
Regime forces, also in 2017, spread through swathes of Hama further south.
Assad’s forces have this year already ousted rebels from Damascus and a string of towns in Homs province that lie directly on the highway.
Regime forces are now waging a fierce campaign for the last strip of the route in Daraa that leads to the coveted Nasib crossing with Jordan.
All along, the offensives have traced the M5.
“It’s quite telling — you can go back and look at the timeline of fighting and see there’s a coherent military approach to retaking the M5,” said Emile Hokayem, fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
“The main wealth, the industrial, infrastructural and urban areas, are located along this line,” he said. “The regime all along wanted to keep control of all these nodes.”