The news that Jaish al-Islam has withdrawn from the town of Adra al-Omalia, northeast of Damascus, came as a surprise Sept. 25. It was similar to when the force had taken control of the town overnight a year and nine months earlier. The withdrawal comes after rebel fighters took control last month of the neighborhood of al-Dukhanniya in eastern Ghouta.

With Jaish al-Islam’s loss of Adra, the Syrian army was able to restore part of the Qalamoun hills and the mountain of Ghouta.

Adra is about 25 km (15.5 miles) northeast of Damascus. It belongs to the district of Douma and is divided into three main parts: Adra al-Omalia, the town of Adra and the industrial area. It is neighbored by al-Dumayr to the east and the towns of Qalamoun to the north. Its strategic importance stems from its location at the axis of Jobar-Harasta-Douma to the northeast of Damascus. Adra is an outlet for the rebel forces toward Douma, which is home to the largest concentration of opposition fighters in eastern Ghouta. Adra is located on the main Damascus-Homs road and is considered a gateway to Damascus in the north and the Qalamoun towns to the west. […]