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Syrian Rebels Try to Cut-off Damascus
A simple look at a map will tell you what the rebels are trying to do with some success. The major highway from Syria's ports on the Mediterranean Sea from Latakia, Banyas and Tartus, supply Damascus. This is where Assad is and where his remaining loyal military is for the most part, all from his brother's 4th Division. Cutting this vital artery at Homs or from Tartus to Homs, both 100 miles north of Damascus would make the city nearly isolated from its supplies. The only other road is from Beirut, Lebanon to Damascus. This is watched carefully by Israeli drones.
The rebel forces have begun attacking Hama and Homs from their controlled areas north of them. The rebels control most of the areas along the 565 mile border with Turkey, the cities of Aleppo, Idlib and Raqqa.
Cutting the vital supply road would also stop the Syrians from retreating from Damascus to the Alawite coastal areas . Assad knows that keeping the road from Damascus to the coast is vital and besides defending Damascus, has sent troops to hold onto Hama and Homs. The rebels have just won an eight day battle for the police academy in Aleppo. That battle cost 65 rebels dead and 150 Syrian soldiers.
But the rebels also seized 21 UN peacekeepers along the Golan Heights and now hold them hostages until Assad withdraws from Jamlah. The rebel unit is from the Free Syrian Army, not the al-Nusra al-Qaeda linked group. Some of the strongest rebel units are in the Deraa area because they have been armed by Arab countries. UN soldiers have been coming under fire more recently. They are there because of the 1973 war between Syria and Israel, where Syria nearly smashed its way into Israel with over 500 tanks. It was a biblical-like battle and ended as if God clearly chose the IDF because despite the IDF being so outnumbered, the Israelis stopped and then advanced to within 20 miles of Damascus. Nothing short of a miracle.
The Golan area is monitored by 1000 UN peacekeepers.