Middle East analysts are appropriately noting, “Rebels played Russian roulette, and lost” after Syrian Army ground forces accompanied by overwhelming Russian airstrikes in Syria’s contested southwest region have collapsed anti-government lines with rapid speed.
Early Friday a major strategic victory was announced as government forces took the Nassib border crossing after recapturing a string of over 8 border outposts in Daraa province.
The Nassib crossing is among Syria’s most important and busiest international border crossings, and sits along the Damascus-Amman international highway. Prior to the war it was a main artery for Syrian exports to GCC countries.
Opposition leaders have confirmed the crossing will now be controlled by Syrian government and Jordanian authorities for the first time after the FSA flag long flew over the outpost since anti-Assad militants captured it in 2015.
SW #Syria rebels have lost the Nassib crossing on #Syrian / #Jordanian border. Nassib was heart of dispute between rebels and #Damascus before #Assad gov’t/ #Russia launched this campaign. It’s gone, as is most of east #Deraa countryside. Rebels played Russian roulette, and lost.
— Nicholas A Heras (@NicholasAHeras) July 6, 2018
— Danny Makki (@Dannymakkisyria) July 6, 2018
The ongoing major offensive to take back Daraa and Al-Quneitra provinces from long entrenched FSA, al-Qaeda, and ISIS groups began last month, and though predicted by many to be a long and grinding affair that held the potential for external state military intervention, the unexpectedly rapid advance of pro-government forces has stunned observers.
Al Masdar reports that three quarters of the region that witnessed the start of armed conflict in 2011 is now back under the control of Damascus:
As a result of these advances, the Syrian Army finds themselves in control of approximately 72 percent of southwest Syria. The remaining 28 percent is under the control of the Free Syrian Army, Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham and Jaysh Khaled bin Walid (ISIS affiliate).
Meanwhile Reuters reports that hundreds of troops in a large military convoy with Russian and Syrian flags have been seen heading to the newly liberated Nassib border crossing as anti-government fighters are laying down their weapons in droves.
According to Reuters:
Syrian rebels reached a deal with Russian officers on a phased handover of their weapons and the deployment of Russian military police near the Jordanian border, a rebel spokesman said.
Ibrahim Jabawi said the agreement was reached during ongoing talks in a town in southern Syria that also includes a cessation of hostilities by both sides.
The past week especially has witnessed mass handovers as well as abandonment of weaponry on the part of anti-government insurgents, resulting in some interesting photographs.
Since the Syrian Army offensive in the southwest, many thousands of weapons have been recovered, including advanced anti-tank and shoulder fired rockets — a significant bulk of them originally supplied via the US, UK, Saudi Arabia, and other western allies:
— Hala Jaber (@HalaJaber) July 4, 2018
— the Lemniscat (@theLemniscat) July 3, 2018
Anti-tank “TOW” missiles supplied as part of a CIA program have been recovered recently:
— Arabiana Intel (@ArabianaINTEL) July 4, 2018
— Danny Makki (@Dannymakkisyria) July 4, 2018
And in some cases Israeli supplied items have been recovered in Syria’s southwest, near the contested Golan border:
Even this far into the Syrian conflict and after many other such weapons seizures throughout the country, analysts and journalists have commented that the sheer numbers of advanced weapons — in most cases obviously externally supplied — are “staggering”.
26 June 2018
Syrian Army seizes a large quantity of weapons, including RPGs and TOW missiles; and Israeli made medicine, left behind by US-backed “rebels” allied with al-Nusra (al-Qaeda) in northeastern Daraa#Syria
2 https://t.co/7IgqpnvmEp pic.twitter.com/lz3RwqXgRo
— the Lemniscat (@theLemniscat) June 27, 2018
Meanwhile, all of this begs the question: where will all the surviving jihadists currently fleeing the Syrian battlefield go? (assuming Syria-Russia will hit the last major expansive jihadist bastion of Idlib next).
Days ago Middle East based journalist Elijah Magnier translated a command issued and circulated by senior al-Qaeda operatives in northern Syria.
The al-Qaeda terror leaders urged followers to take action outside Syria now that the government and Russia are emerging victorious: “put your explosive belt on, take your family to a safe place, don’t think of coming to Idlib for there only humiliation & rely on guerrilla/ insurgency.”
Communiqué by AQ in Syria (Hurras al-Deen) to foreign fighters & Syrian fighting among Mujahedeen: “put your explosive belt on, take your family to a safe place, don’t think of coming to Idlib for there only humiliation & rely on guerrilla/ insurgency”
Communiqué by #AQ in #Syria (Hurras al-Deen) to foreign fighters & Syrian fighting among Mujahedeen:”put your explosive belt on, take your family to a safe place, don’t think of coming to Idlib for there only humiliation & rely on guerrilla/ insurgency”: signed #Jordan/Ian cmdrs pic.twitter.com/w1bHAV24XP
— Elijah J. Magnier (@ejmalrai) July 2, 2018
As we’ve never been shy to point out over the years, the West and its gulf allies armed al-Qaeda to the teeth in Syria — something so well documented that international arms monitoring groups can pinpoint weapons serial numbers down to identifying particular European transit points through which weapons flowed as part of CIA covert shipments.
Surely, just as many or more quantities of weapons as have already been recovered will remain in the hands of jihadists seeking to exit Syria… but where will they go?
Very unfortunately, we have an idea of where they might end up… as we predicted years ago in the following: They Sow the Cyclone – We Reap the Blowback.