Syria Daily: Jordan and US Accepting Pro-Assad Offensive in South?

Smoke rises from pro-Assad attacks on al-Harak, Daraa Province, southern Syria, June 25, 2018 (Alaa Alfaqir/Reuters)

Both Jordan and the US may be on the verge of accepting a pro-Assad offensive to retake opposition areas in southern Syria, only days after the US promised “firm and appropriate measures” against any assault.

Russia, the Assad regime’s essential ally, pointed towards the possibility as Moscow said that it is holding talks with the Jordanians.

“South Syria will be discussed at the bilateral level with Jordan for the time being, and its Foreign Minister will visit Moscow for this purpose,” Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bagdanov said. “There is ongoing coordination between the two sides now to determine the date of the visit.”

Bogdanov also said that he hoped to discuss the situation in Syria with John Bolton during the National Security Advisor’s trip to Moscow on Wednesday. Bolton will also meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

The US and Jordan are both part of the Military Operations Command in Amman, which nominally has provided assistance to rebels in southern Syria. However, the MOC has sharply reduced its backing since 2015, blocking operations by the Southern Front and standing aside as pro-Assad forces retook opposition territory.

The situation is being brought to a head by the Assad regime’s efforts to recapture opposition areas in Daraa and Quneitra Provinces, near the Jordanian border and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, following its recapture of the East Ghouta region near Damascus in April.

Daraa and Quneitra are supposedly a “de-escalation zone” announced by the US and Russia last July, but Moscow has broken other zones to enable pro-Assad advances, including in East Ghouta and parts of northwest Syria.

Pro-opposition activists said over the weekend that Russian warplanes have joined the Assad regime’s shelling and bombing of eastern Daraa Province, which escalated last Tuesday. Missiles were fired on Sunday upon Daraa city, the site of the start of the Syrian uprising in March 2011, and barrel bombs were dropped for the first time yesterday.

See Syria Daily: Claims — Assad Regime Fires Missiles on Daraa City

Despite four public warnings since late May against any pro-Assad assault, the US sent a message — via its Embassy in Amman — to rebels last weekend that they should not expect any American support.

Trapping the Civilians

The Jordanian Government said on Monday that it will not accept any people fleeing the pro-Assad offensive.

Spokeswoman Jumana Ghunaimat said Jordan has already taken large numbers of Syrian refugees and “we simply cannot receive more”. She said Amman is working with the Russia and the US to protect its national interests.

The UN said last week that more than 11,000 civilians had been displaced from eastern Daraa Province in the first four days of the offensive. The Assad regime has restricted movement by sealing off neighboring Suweida Province.

About 660,000 Syrian refugees are registered in Jordan, but Amman says the actual number is twice as high. The Kingdom officially closed its border in 2016, stranding about 75,000 people in camps in the Rukban area just inside Syria.

Amnesty International responded in a statement:

People fleeing war in Syria are in a desperate life-or-death situation, and the Jordanian government cannot simply abandon them.

Jordan has a duty to protect refugees from Syria fleeing conflict and persecution, and to allow them to enter the country. Closing the border to people in need of protection violates Jordan’s international obligations….

The Jordanian government must open its border to those fleeing Syria, and the international community must provide full and meaningful support to Jordan and other countries in the region that are hosting large numbers of refugees who have fled from Syria.

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

13 COMMENTS

  1. Spokeswoman Jumana Ghunaimat said Jordan has already taken large numbers of Syrian refugees and “we simply cannot receive more”.

    Maybe the poodle dictatorship in Jordan should have thought about this before acting as a conduit for the movement of weapons and foreign jihadists flooding Syria.

    • Most of whom are sent by Iran, the countless Iraqis, Lebanese and Afghans.

      Will they be called in to save the mullahs from the Iranian strikers and protesters? Seeing how the mullahs’ support from the populace has sunk to deep not even a submarine would find the flotsam and jetsam of it.

      • Wrong. Most were sent by Sunni states. Anti Assad fighters did not come from Iran or Afghanistan. The Iran strikes are not aimed at regime change, though you can be sure the US and it’s NGOs like NED are looking at ways to sabotage these demonstrations and turn them into regime change instruments.

  2. “Qalaat Al Mudiq
    ‏ @QalaatAlMudiq
    51m51 minutes ago

    S. #Syria: Regime took over strategic town of Busra Harir during overnight assault. Such quick advance made by night strongly suggests a significant (ground & aerial) involvement of #Russia (at least) needed to break defense lines. http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=32.842097&lon=36.341400&z=11&m …”
    .
    The deceitful Ruskies are at it again. Their word in a de-escalation zone means nothing. They are liars and thugs. How long before the Ruskies supply the Assad gang with more chemical weapons to finish the job off?
    Are Jordan really going to line their tanks up against refugees trying to leave Syria, like the Turks did to the Kurds in Kobane?

      • Its incredibile how ignorant you are. Taking Lajat cuts of rebels from Jordan? You have no clue were Lajat is i suppose. Its a small pocket north of Daraa. All the rest of the area to Jordan is still firmly in rebel hands. If you dont know things (as usual) save yourself the fatigue to post.

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