Syrian government 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 and spiraled into Syria’s devastating civil war.
Seven years on, Syrian, Russian and Iranian forces are fighting to put down the remnants of the Daraa uprising, and President Bashar al-Assad’s victory is all but assured.
The weeks-long battle for the rebels’ southwestern pocket, once deemed by the Trump administration as worthy of U.S. protection, killed hundreds of civilians and displaced hundreds of thousands more.
On Syrian state media Thursday, the streets of Daraa appeared calm as the national flag — 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, who described 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 become known as the cradle of their revolution. When Arab Spring 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.
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