Syria raises flag over city where anti-Assad rebellion began


By Louisa Loveluck | Washington Post

BEIRUT – Syrian forces hoisted their red, black and white flag as they took control of the southern city of Daraa on Thursday, quashing a rebellion that began there in 2011 before spiraling into one of the bloodiest wars of the century.

Seven years on, Syrian, Russian and Iranian forces are fighting the dregs of that uprising and President Bashar al-Assad’s victory is all but assured. The weeks-long battle for the rebels’ southwestern pocket, once hailed by President Donald Trump as worthy of U.S. protection, killed hundreds of civilians and displaced hundreds of thousands more.

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On state media Thursday, the streets of Daraa appeared calm as the national flag – still eschewed by the opposition – fluttered in the wind and military officials strolled around greeting elderly residents.

“Congratulations to the people of Daraa, to all the Syrian people,” said one general, describing the government’s return as a victory for “honorable citizens.”

But there were also reports of widespread looting in Daraa province’s recaptured east, with some residents, speaking on the condition of anonymity out of safety concerns, saying that pro-government forces had emptied houses of televisions, electrical wiring and more.

For the uprising’s supporters, Daraa had became known as the cradle of their revolution. When protests roiled the Middle East in early 2011, it was the arrest and torture of a group of young boys – they were said to have spray-painted anti-government slogans on the city walls – that sparked Syria’s own mass revolt.

Monitoring groups say the crackdown and insurgency that followed has caused the deaths of about half a million Syrians and sent 5 million more into exile as refugees. More than …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics

      

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