On 25 February 2020, the Syrian Transport Minister, Ali Hammoud, announced that the country’s main artery - the M5 highway - had been recaptured and reopened to traffic.
The M5 had remained open during the “Arab Spring” (2011-early 2012), but was partially closed since the start of the war (mid-2012). It connects Syria’s four most important cities: Damascus / Homs / Hama / Aleppo.
During the war, the army had chosen to defend the populations rather than the territory. The big cities remained under its control, while the countryside and the deserts were occupied by the jihadists. Communications had become difficult if not impossible.