Middle East

How significant is Darayya in the Syrian war?

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Media captionThe deal to end the siege of Darayya is seen as a victory for the government

An agreement to end a four-year siege of the town of Darayya on the outskirts of the Syrian capital has major symbolic and strategic significance for both the government and the rebels who have until now controlled it.

Darayya is regarded by many Syrians as a symbol of the uprising against the Syrian government. The town was one of the first areas around the capital to witness demonstrations against the government of Bashar al-Assad.

During the early days of the uprising in 2011, videos from Darayya showed protesters offering flowers and iced water to security forces. As a result, the town has become identified with the peaceful side of the uprising.

Regaining control of Darayya is part of the government plan to secure the capital by reducing the rebels' presence in its suburbs.

Darayya is the biggest town in the West Ghouta area of the Damascus countryside.

Located 7 km (4 miles) from the city centre, it is also very close to the Mezze airbase, one of the government's most important in the vicinity of the capital.

Before the civil war, Darayya was home to more than 170,000 people.

With the fall of Darayya, Muadhamiya al-Sham will be the only area in West Ghouta still controlled by the rebels.

Other pockets of land to the east and southwest of Damascus remain under the control of various rebel groups.

Pro-government media outlets have hailed the deal, seeing it as a victory for the Syrian state.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Twitter user @aliamansour shared images purportedly showing Darayya before and after the conflict

But opposition outlets and social media users have expressed bitterness, saying the world had let down the town.

They hailed the rebels and residents, saying they said had stood firm in the face of years of bombardment and siege.

Many of them shared a short video showing one of the town's rebels promising a victorious return.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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