Fall of Eastern Ghouta pivotal for Assad

The recapture of Eastern Ghouta by Syrian government forces means President Bashar al-Assad is now more securely in power than at any time since the start of this seven-year-conflict.

President Assad will be exuberant that the rebels have been ousted from their last remaining stronghold close to the capital. He can rest easily in Damascus knowing the city will no longer be hit by rebel mortar-fire.

The fall of Eastern Ghouta is not as significant as the government’s recapture of eastern Aleppo in 2016, which changed the course of the war.

But it does cement the growing control of the Syrian regime – heavily backed by Russia and Iran – over large parts of the country.

Image caption About 1,600 people have been killed since pro-Syrian forces stepped up their offensive

President Assad will also presumably take added satisfaction from the fact the Eastern Ghouta was the scene of the some of the first major protests in the capital against his rule.

The chants of “the people want the fall of the regime” are now a distant echo. The opposition has never been weaker.

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But his latest victory – and that is how President Assad and his supporters will…

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