How significant was liberation of Daraya by Syrian government?

Alwaght- The battlefield developments continue to roll on in Syria with a great deal of ups and downs. In the outskirts of the capital city of Damascus and different areas around it very significant advances have been made by the Syrian army in past few days. In the frontline of Douma city in northeast of Damascus very fierce clashes were reported under way, and the fighter jets of the Syrian air force are heavily bombing the terrorist-held areas.

But beside clashes in different fronts in Syria, there have been progresses made without any fighting by the Syrian Arab Army.

For example, Daraya, a suburb of Damascus, is one of the areas that was liberated by the armed forces of Syria without any clashes with the armed groups in control of the city.

 Some facts about Daraya

Daraya is a Syrian city located eight kilometers west of Damascus. It is close to Damascus’ Almaza mountain as well as Moadamiyet al-Sham town and at the same time is considered as the largest city of the Western Ghouta in suburbs of Damascus.

The city has an old history and is actually as old as Damascus. Its name in Syriac language carries the meaning of “many houses.” Some archaeologists even suggest that the city dates back to before Christ.

Due to its proximity to Damascus, Daraya was home to large population before the devastating conflict in the country. But the war has affected size of its population. The city holds some industrial facilities. Some of its residents are farmers and some others are employed by the private sector.

Both Catholic and Orthodox Christians are living in Daraya. The history of Catholicism in the city dates back to 1934. The first church was built for the Christians in 1937. The Orthodox Christianity is considered older than Catholicism. In fact, the Catholics of Daraya splitted from Orthodox Christians in the city.

Daraya is also home to some shrines, including those of Ezekiel, a Jewish prophet, and Bilal Habashi, one of the most trusted companions of the Prophet Muhammad.

Just like other Syrian areas Daraya became scene to the violence in 2011, and the rebel group of Free Syrian Army (FSA) started activities in the city. But the city witnessed a climax of clashes in 2012 when number of militants saw a surge in the city. Additionally, the terrorists after entry to Daraya began killing many civilians and destroying and looting of the city. The militants turned Daraya into their base for launching assaults on Damascus. They have been targeting Damascus with mortars on a daily basis.

Triumph of Syrian army

The major development in Daraya took place when the Syrian army reached an agreement with the armed groups in the city that paved the way for them to withdraw from Daraya and so the city was liberated without clashes.

According to the deal, about 4,000 civilians were transferred to makeshift residential areas, and about 700 militants were allowed to go to the northwestern province of Idlib.

According to the very latest reports the buses entered Daraya, and at the same time General Ali Ayoub, a top commander of the Syrian military, entered the city to follow the evacuation process.

The reports added that the buses carrying militants have left the city.

The process of evacuation of the armed groups and the civilians would take four days and then the Syrian army would get into the city for full control.

Concerning the Daraya city and the new deal, it can be said that this is one of the biggest achievements of the Syrian armed forces in the face of the militant groups in Damascus outskirts.

 Why is Daraya so significant?

The deal takes one of the most significant areas in Western Ghouta from the armed groups and so would cut off their connection with Khan al-Sheikh, Daraa outskirts, and Quneitra. Daraya offers a supply line and logistics line to the militants from Daraa and Quneitra outskirts to Western Ghouta, and is overlooking the Almaza airport and west of the capital.

Daraya was a symbolic city for the militants because the insurgency for the first time in Damascus outskirts sparked from there. It was one of the first areas that rose against the Syrian army and since 2012 it was a scene of anti-government war. The importance of Daraya for the opposition groups caused them to make big efforts in last February to include it in short-lived ceasefire deal. However, the Syrian government declined to accept, arguing that the city sheltered fighters from al-Nusra Front, an affiliate of Al-Qaeda terrorist group.

With the new triumph of the Syrian army the outskirts of the capital as well as Western Ghouta would be safer and also the military and logistic links of the armed groups with Damascus’ south suburbs, Khan Sheikh district and also Quneitra would be cut off.

On the other side, the Daraya deal can be a success of the negotiations approach. Actually, dialogue between the Syrian army and the militants has led to liberation of the biggest city of Western Ghouta near the capital without further clashes. The surrender of the militants in Daraya was also an outcome of putting strains on them and also tightening the encirclement by the army.

Since last week the Syrian army backed by its allies started an operation to press the militants, giving them only 24 hours to leave the city. Finally, the militants yielded to the deal with a mediation of the UN.

Daraya was so significant for the opposition groups that they are on social media accusing each other of treason for allowing recapture of the city by army.

By Alwaght