The Syrian army regained control Sunday of the border crossing with the Iraqi town of Rabiya, which the insurgency seized the day before, according to security officials and Iraq’s state television. The insurgents had left the border post before troops loyal to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad regained control, according to three Iraqi security officials, who requested anonymity.
No clashes were reported near the border post, located about 520km northwest of Baghdad. Rabiya was the second border crossing with Iraq which fell to the hands of the Syrian insurgents. The other – Boukamal, opposite to the Iraqi town of Qaim, on Sunday afternoon still remained under control of the insurgency.
The rebels’ capture of the main border crossing between Syria and Iraq is a blow to the regime of Bashar al-Assad as it is a vital point for the movement of goods, which is crucial to the struggling Syrian economy.
Boukamal crossing fell Thursday to the hands of the Free Syrian Army. It is considered the nerve center of trade between the two countries that share a 600 km long border.
“The takeover of Boukamal to the rebels is a blow to the Syrian regime (…). Boukamal is much more vital to Syria than Iraq, especially in view of the trade being done there,” noted Hamid Fadel, a political science professor at Baghdad University.
“This will strengthen the rebels and weaken the Syrian government that wants to avoid at all costs the reinforcements – in men and material – to the opposition forces,” he said.