Qouneïtra (Syria) (AFP) – About 300 people, Syrian regime soldiers and civilians, celebrated Friday the end of the rebel presence in a region of southern Syria during a symbolic ceremony in the deserted city of Qouneïtra, at gates of Israel.
Quasi-abandoned and in ruins since the Israeli-Arab wars of the 1960s and 1970s, the city of Qouneitra is in the demilitarized buffer zone that separates the Syrian part of the Golan plateau from the part occupied by Israel.
Since the outbreak of the war in Syria in 2011, several villages around Qouneïtra had come under the control of rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad.
But after a military offensive launched in June followed by capitulation agreements negotiated by the Russian ally, these rebels returned their heavy artillery and accepted a return of the regime in the villages they had conquered.
Bashar al-Assad’s forces were able to take over almost the entire province of Quneithera bordering Israel and where the Golan Heights are.
To “celebrate” the victory, some 300 people, regime soldiers, civilians and some rebels who agreed to lay down their arms converged on the ruined city of Qouneïtra for a symbolic ceremony including a lifting of the Syrian national flag.
A portrait of President Bashar al-Assad was installed on a monument in ruins enthroned in the middle of “the place of Liberation,” said an AFP correspondent during a trip organized by the regime.