What Damascus looked like in 2013 when Islamist rebels were poised to overrun it
BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:07 P.M.) – Just over five years ago when it became apparent that the Syrian crisis had moved from highly localized insurgency to a state of all out military conflict and maneuver warfare, Islamist rebels achieved major advances around Damascus and in doing so nearly overrun it.
Despite current obsessions among Syrian conflict analysts over the strategic value of oil fields and the Euphrates, one should never forget that Damascus city as the central hub of all major communication lines that run throughout Syria has always been the most important front.
In early 2013, Islamist rebels from a number of different factions had cornered the capital from the north, east and south. But despite the threatening appearance of rebel-controlled towns and districts around Damascus, Syrian government forces managed to accomplish one critical objective – keeping the main roads open.
By doing this the Syrian Army and its allies were able to maintain the flow of reinforcements and supplies to and from Daraa, Homs, Hama, Latakia and Tartus.
Here, the Syrian pro-government forces set the ground for future operations that would allow them to hold on to the western core of Syria – which hosts the rump of the country’s population, possesses some of its most fertile land and allows access to the Mediterranean Sea – despite territorial losses in the north and east.