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Syria Regains Control of Damascus, After Seven Years of Fighting

Syrian state television broadcast scenes of jubilant celebration among government troops entering the sorry landscape. Soldiers fired in the air and waved Syrian flags as residents looked on and buses with black curtains in their windows took away the last of the 1,600 Islamic State fighters who had been in the camp.

Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, lost control of large sections of the country in the early years of the war, which began in 2011, and seemed headed for defeat before Russia intervened on his behalf in 2015. The combination of Russian airpower and Iranian ground forces turned the tide, leading to today’s declaration.

In a meeting in Moscow last week with Mr. Assad, Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, seemed to suggest that with the fighting dying down the time was ripe for a political settlement that would allow all foreign forces to wind up operations and head home. But with Turkey entrenched in the north and looking to defend its border with Syria, the United States guarding a section in the east and Israel trading military jabs with Iranian forces in the south, that prospect seemed unlikely, for the immediate future.

Syria Regains Control of Damascus, After Seven Years of Fighting
Syria Regains Control of Damascus, After Seven Years of Fighting

The Kremlin later amended last week’s statement, saying Mr. Putin was referring only to Iran, which quickly rejected the suggestion.

For proponents of the Syrian government, Monday was a day for celebration. But the losers were bitter about their fate.

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