Syria Daily: Pro-Assad Advance in South as Russia Joins “Scorched Earth” Attacks

Smoke rises from an Assad regime airstrike on Daraa Province, June 27, 2018

UPDATE 1400 GMT: Pro-Assad forces have made more advances in eastern Daraa Province amid “uncountable” air and artillery strikes.

The offensive has taken the town of al-Mleiha and is at the entrance of al-Herak, which has been intensely bombed today.

At least 20 people have reportedly been killed in the town of al-Musayfrah alone. Photos of slain children have been posted.

Churches have been damaged in the bombardment:

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UPDATE 1140 GMT: Russian officials have lied again about opposition preparations for a “false flag” chemical attack, this time on Idlib Province in northwest Syria.

Moscow has used the tactic repeatedly, both to cover for imminent Assad regime attacks or for those that have taken place in pro-Assad offensives backed by Russian airpower. The false claims were made this spring during the recapture of East Ghouta near Damascus, trying to deny the regime’s chemical assaults, including a double attack that killed about 50 people in the city of Douma on April 7.

See Yes, Assad Regime Carried Out Chemical Attack on Douma — A Multi-Media Investigation
Fog of Trolls: Pro-Assad Misinformation Over Douma Chemical Attacks

The latest ploy is by the Russian “Center for Reconcilation” which combined the disinformation with the campaign to smear the White Helmets civil defense organization. Citing “locals”, Maj. Gen. Aleksey Tsygankov said the “notorious” rescuers brought “missiles and canisters containing unknown substances, as well as protective gear and filming equipment” in a convoy of six vehicles to the town of Ma’arat al-Num’an over the weekend.

The disinformation is featured on Russian State outlet RT today.

In April 2017, the Assad regime used sarin on the nearby town of Khan Sheikhoun, killing about 90 people and wounding hundreds. Russia was unable to prevent international inspectors attributing blame to the regime, but it used a Security Council veto to block the inspectors from doing so in future.


UPDATE 0830 GMT: Regime and Russian airstrikes are expanding farther this morning to southern Daraa Province, including near Herak, northeast of Daraa city:

The international medical organization UOSSM reports another casualty among its staff as its facilities are bombed across Daraa:

Syrian State media is continued to lie about the targets of the attacks, saying that bombing of the southeast of Daraa city was on “movements and supply routes of Jabhat al-Nusra”.

Jabhat al-Nusra has no significant presence in Daraa Province, let alone Daraa city, where the Syrian uprising began in March 2011.

Claimed footage inside al-Herak:


ORIGINAL ENTRY: Enabled by Russian bombing, pro-Assad forces advanced in their offensive against the opposition area of southern Syria on Wednesday.

Defying its own “de-escalation zone”, announced with the US last July, Russia joined the offensive last weekend with airstrikes. The pro-Assad ground assault, despite intense bombardment, had made little progress in its first four days.

But yesterday, with strikes extending across Daraa Province, local sources reported that the pro-Assad forces are advancing. Humanitarian activist Omar al-Hariri summarized that the Assad regime and its allies “took control of several towns and villages…[with] the use of scorched earth policy, forcing tens of thousands to flee”.

Hariri said that, with the spread of attacks, the number of displaced in the past nine days — estimated by the UN to be up to 50,000 — is now 150,000 and rising. Medical facilities have been struck and knocked out of service, with the services in the towns of Saida, Jizah, and Musayfira struck on Wednesday.

The activist reported that 131 people have been killed since the start of the offensive on June 19.

“No Place to Go”

Emad Batin, the Vice President of the Daraa Provincial Council, said local officials estimated that “more than 120,000” residents had fled by Wednesday afternoon.

“There is no place to go, we left our village in great haste without taking any clothes or food,” said Um Khalid, who left the town of Alma for the nearby town of a-Giza this week. She and her four children are temporarily in a relative’s home alongside 15 other family members.

But hours after she spoke, a-Giza was bombed, with a local field hospital knocked out of service.

Jordan, which hosts more than 660,000 registered refugees, has shut its border to any of the displaced.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had said last month, after meetings with Israeli officials, that all “non-Syrian forces” should withdraw from Daraa and Quneitra Provinces, near the Jordanian border and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. But the Russian Defense Ministry has covered Moscow’s change of approach with the pretext that the airstrikes are a “response to violations by extremist terrorist groups against Syrian government forces”.

See Syria Daily, June 27: Russia — We Will Join Pro-Assad Offensive on South

The US, which had said on four occasions before last weekend that it would take “firm” measures in response to any pro-Assad offensive, has made no statement about the Russian intervention. National Security Advisor John Bolton met Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, on Wednesday: no details were given of the discussion on Syria.

“A Full-Scale Ground Offensive”

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura — who has spent recent weeks with Russia, Turkey, and Iran on a supposed political process for the 87-month Syrian conflict — said, “We see a full-scale ground offensive and aerial bombardment.” He said the damage and displacement of population could be similar to that of eastern Aleppo city in late 2016 and East Ghouta near Damascus this spring, where Russian attacks enabled pro-Assad takeovers.

Even this was too much for the Assad regime’s ambassador, Bashar al-Ja’afari, who assailed de Mistura “Is this within the mandate of the special envoy, your excellencies?” He said the envoy had neglected the fight against terrorism, with the insistence that Islamic State fighters and the jihadists of Jabhat al-Nusra were in the area, protected by “the Americans, the Israelis, and others”.

Jabhat al-Nusra, now part of the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, has no significant presence in Daraa Province. A local faction linked to ISIS, Khalid ibn al-Walid, has a pocket in western Daraa, far from the sites of the initial pro-Assad and Russian attacks on opposition territory.

Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia maintained the pretext, “The cities of Daraa and Sweida, as well as residential areas that have embraced de-escalation, are being subjected to shelling by jihadis.”

US representative Jonathan Cohen noted that the largest opposition force is the Southern Front of the Free Syrian Army:
“To be clear, the unilateral operations underway by the Assad regime and Russia in southwest Syria represent a violation of the ceasefire arrangement reaffirmed by President Trump and President Putin.”

But Cohen gave no indication of any US action to check the offensive.

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.

20 COMMENTS

  1. “Qalaat Al Mudiq Retweeted
    Nabih
    ‏Verified account @nabihbulos
    2h2 hours ago

    #Jordan-ians launch Open The Borders hashtag to let #Syria-ns fleeing #Deraa offensive come in. We’re already poor, but we’ll share our bread with them, they say. Reject govt decision & say it’s shameful.”
    .
    There are still a few human beings left!

    • Yeah sweet Jordan who have been serving as a source for foreign fighters and weapons flowing into Syria thus being directly responsible for the creator of these refugees and deaths to begin with.

      Such humanity

      • If Assad and his helpers had not decided to bomb innocent civilians, there was no need for Syrians to resist his armies. Learn something on political movements, and stop making a fool out of yourself.

        • If Assad and his helpers had not decided to bomb innocent civilians, there was no need for Syrians to resist his armies.

          Syrians are not resisting the Syrian army. It’s foreign fighters who are holding them hostage and using them as human shields.

          • Can you point me to the “foreign fighters” in the Southern Front, the main rebel group in southern Syria?

              • You know little about relationship between Southern Front and the Amman MOC.

                But, again, these are not “foreign” fighters. They are Syrians who have taken up arms in opposition to the Assad regime.

              • You are very ignorant. I already told you for another issue. You are ignorant cuz you follow piss poor propaganda for tools with IQ’s range 20/30. Daraa rebel groups are composed only by local syrians most of them tribesmen. As usual your ignorance prevails.

              • The Southern Front all speak Arabic and are defending their country, if Assad has any popular support his army would not consist primarily of Afgahn mercenaries who can’t even speak the language.

                (Though I’d not be surprised if you think Afghanistan is Arabic speaking).

              • You know little about relationship between Southern Front and the Amman MOC.

                All there is to know is that any group run from a another country, who are supported by foreign countries are striving the interest of those countries. It was no accident that the so called uprising began in Daraa, so close to the border with Israel and Jordan where the plot to overthrow Assad was planned.

                There are no doubt some Syrians among them, but they are are buttressed by foreign fighters.

              • The Southern Front all speak Arabic and are defending their country,

                Wow what a relevantion. Here’s news for you Niall. So do people in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Iraq, and Egypt.

                And no, they are not defending their country. They arte holding onto 5% of it, but not for long.

                if Assad has any popular support his army would not consist primarily of Afgahn mercenaries who can’t even speak the language.

                It doesn’t. You are confusing Assad with Iranian backed militias. FYI. Saudi Arabia hired about 10,000 foreign mercenaries in Yemen to do the fighting for them

              • You are ignorant cuz you follow piss poor propaganda for tools with IQ’s range 20/30.

                Someone who claims Israel set back Hezbollah’s missile assets by 20 years in 2006 shouldn’t be talking about IQs Caligola, seeing as Hezollah’s missile inventory today is 4 times the size and far more powerful.

                Daraa rebel groups are composed only by local syrians most of them tribesmen. As usual your ignorance prevails.

                Wrong. They include Syrians yes, but they they are run out of Jordan with a large number of foreign fighters among their ranks.

                No matter. They will soon be pushing up daisies.

              • So the Amman MOC started the Daraa uprising in March 2011?

                Let’s take a look at the facts shall we?

                May 2011: The Farouk brigade were chanting “Christians to Beirut, Alawites to the grave”. Why the hostility with Christians if the uprising was merely a response to the Assad regime?

                March 11: Syrian forces seized “a large shipment of weapons and explosives and night-vision goggles … in a truck coming from Iraq”.

                A week later snipers fired from rooftops at police and crowds in Daraa. Saudi officials confirmed they had sent arms to the al-Omari mosque.

                This was clearly coordinated well before the so called uprising.

              • Your “facts” are wrong — for example, there was no “truck coming from Iraq” and those snipers in Daraa were regime snipers but….

                The Amman MOC did not exist in March 2011.

                Please stop now. Really.

              • What a tool you are Andre. No go suck up that two cent militia you support. Till Israel puts them back up again 20 yrs.

              • Till Israel puts them back up again 20 yrs.

                Those militias but be begging for Israel to put them back again 20 years. Every time Israel does that, they end up 4-5 times more powerful. Today, Israeli generals have described Hezbollah as one of the 4th or 5th most powerful armies in the world.

              • ” Today, Israeli generals have described Hezbollah as one of the 4th or 5th most powerful armies in the world.”

                hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah omg this goes down in your top 3 bullshit of all times.

              • Andre – you are ruining the free flow of information on this forum. And you are turning a lot of people away from EA with your serial agitprop and fake news. Can you please go away and bother some other forum? What is the point of opposing anything written here with a set of fake narratives and cherry picked statistics? Please take a hint from your colleague Barbar. At least he was not a bore.

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