Report: Syrian Rebels Take Control Over Area Outside Damascus

Assad forces withdraw from area of al-Zabadani, located 19 miles outside Damascus, after Syrian government and rebels reach local ceasefire.

Opposition forces in Syria succeeded in taking control of an area outside Damascus on Wednesday as Syrian troops withdrew from the town, Al-Arabiya reported.

The Free Syria Army's seizure of the area of al-Zabadani, located 19 miles (30 km) outside of the capital Damascus, marks the first time rebels succeeded in taking control over land in Syria.


Syrian troops reportedly withdrew from the area after rebels and government forces agreed on a ceasefire one day earlier.

The deal was reached between town leaders and Deputy Defense Minister Assef Shawkat, who is the brother-in-law of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

"We do not know how long this ceasefire will last," opposition activist Ahmad al-Saeed told German news agency DPA on Wednesday. According to al-Saeed, government forces had agreed to end their siege of the town, while rebel forces agreed to withdraw from the town’s streets.

The Syrian government issued no immediate comment on the matter.

Fighting continued elsewhere in the country, as the army shelled the city of Daraa. Opposition sources reported five people killed and some forty arrests in the area.

Also Wednesday, representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood claimed to have rejected a proposal floated by Iran that that group be given control over the Syrian government in exchange for its agreement that Assad remain president.