AP Explains: Why Syria’s M5 is Assad’s highway to victory

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian President Bashar Assad has gained what’s perhaps his most significant strategic victory in the nearly nine-year-old Syrian civil war: the recapture of the all-important M5 highway. The road links all of Syria’s main cities with its political capital, Damascus, and the trading hub of Aleppo. Experts say it’s one of the most strategic highways in the Middle East. Assad gradually lost control over the motorway from 2012, when various rebel groups fighting to topple him began seizing parts of the country. But with Russia’s military help, Assad has won back from the Turkey-backed rebels the vital M5 — and with it, he’s most likely secured the road to victory.