A Syrian regime member walks amid the destruction in Jobar in Eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on April 2, 2018. AFP / LOUAI BESHARA
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The expected loss of Eastern Ghouta will deal Syria's fragmented rebels their biggest blow yet, leaving them unable to threaten President Bashar Assad in Damascus and increasingly subservient to competing global interests.Weakened by a slow and painful half-decade siege, rebels could hardly hold out under weeks of bombing that culminated in negotiated withdrawals, a strategy polished by Syria's regime elsewhere.After Ghouta, nowhere is safe, Nawar told AFP.At the time, mainstream rebels held more territory in Idlib, Homs, and around Damascus – and they still had Ghouta.The "Syrian National Army" – the Turkey-backed force tied to the political opposition – said that Ghouta's rebels were welcome to join its ranks.Most of the fighters evacuated from Ghouta belonged to Failaq al-Rahman, who would likely join ranks with Ankara-backed forces in Idlib and Aleppo.Ahmad Abazeid, an independent Syrian analyst, said rebels in Ghouta's armed insurgency had been a rare case of more independent decision-making.
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