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Is Syrian regime's seizure of Sheikh Miskin a tipping point?

Aided by Russian air cover, the Syrian regime retook the strategic city of Sheikh Miskin and advanced on numerous other fronts, likely affecting the Geneva III talks.

DAMASCUS, Syria — Syrian opposition forces seized the city of Sheikh Miskin, in Daraa's northern countryside, at the end of 2014, but on Jan. 26, the regime regained control of the city, aided by Russian air cover as part of a military campaign launched Dec. 28. The government forces of President Bashar al-Assad had earlier regained control over strategic towns in the countryside of Latakia, including Salma, recovered Jan. 12, and Rabia and Rawda, retaken Jan. 24. The government forces' progress on several fronts cannot be isolated from the ongoing negotiations to end the war. The Geneva III peace talks officially convened Feb. 1. 

Sheikh Miskin — the fourth-largest city in Daraa province, with a population of 45,000 — is situated 54 miles from Damascus and 13 miles north of Daraa city, which makes it the gateway from Daraa’s eastern countryside to its western countryside, which is controlled by opposition forces. The General Command of the Army and Armed Forces declared in a Jan. 26 statement broadcast by the Syrian official news agency ​SANA that the Syrian army, in cooperation with popular defense groups and backed by Russian air power, had restored security and stability to Sheikh Miskin city following a “series of successes in which the army assumed control of several sites, most importantly the Brigade 82 Camp and al-Hash hill, in addition to destroying centers of the terrorist organizations,” causing them huge losses in fighters and equipment. On the same day, Russia Today posted video of Syrian armed forces entering the city.

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