Syrian rebels launched a series of battles in southern Syria to open the route between Daraa and Quneitra and gain access to Damascus and its besieged western countryside.

The clashes took place at the end of September and beginning of October, and included the Sept. 27 al-Waad-al-Haq battle that resulted in rebels seizing Quneitra, and the Oct. 4 Daraa offensive that fighters announced on the first day of the Eid al-Adha festival in the northwest Daraa countryside. The rebels took control of al-Harra and its strategic Tel al-Harra hill.

Upon leaving Damascus, one feels as if one has gone from one country to another. Most of the villages and towns on both sides of the southbound international highway have witnessed fierce battles, whose effects are still obvious. The passengers on the road, which is controlled by the Syrian army, are at risk of becoming targets for regime snipers as they enter opposition-controlled areas in the countryside of Daraa. […]