Syria Daily: Pro-Assad Assault Builds in South as Residents Flee

Children among civilians fleeing eastern Daraa Province in southern Syria, June 2018

The pro-Assad assault on southern Syria continued on Thursday in advance of a possible ground offensive, displacing thousands of residents.

Bombardment by pro-Assad forces has surged since Monday, particularly in eastern Daraa Province, part of the area near the Jordanian border and Israeli-occupied Golan Heights which the Assad regime has pledged to recapture.

Local sources estimated that more than 12,000 people have fled from the town of Busra al-Harir and nearby areas.

Regime media covered the latest attacks by declaring — falsely — that they are on positions of the jihadist bloc Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and that rebels fired rockets which killed two people in regime-held Sweida Province to the east. Pro-opposition activists said the casualties were regime military personnel.

The regime has looked towards the reoccupation of Quneitra and Daraa Provinces, where the Syrian uprising began in March 2011, since it reclaimed East Ghouta near Damascus in April.

Israel has warned that it will intervene against any offensive including Hezbollah and Iranian-led foreign militia. After discussions with the Israelis, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said all “non-Syrian forces” must leave the area and suggested a political process for rebel withdrawal. The US and Russia have also declared a “de-escalation zone” across southern Syria since last July.

The Assad regime’s military has not made a significant advance since 2012 without Iranian-backed forces on the ground and Russian airpower. But opposition activists warn that Hezbollah and Iranian-backed militia may disguise themselves within the regime forces, and Russia — while not carrying out any operations so far — has broken other de-escalation zones, notably in East Ghouta and in parts of northwest Syria.

The US State Department, for the third time in recent days, warned of “serious repercussions” of any offensive.

“Syrian regime military and militia units, according to our reports, have violated the southwest de-escalation zone and initiated air strikes, artillery, and rocket attacks,” spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Thursday.

Jens Laerke, the UN humanitarian spokesman in Geneva, expressed concern “about reports of an escalation of violence in Daraa governorate…endangering civilians and displacing hundreds of families”.

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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.

18 COMMENTS

  1. As of now all regime advances in Daraa failed. Regime for now is using hit and run tactics and not much airforce.
    https://twitter.com/badly_xeroxed/status/1009894391673126912

    One of the reasons the Daraa offensive is not picking up could be because of US/Israeli pressure with the russians to halt the operation. State department asking rebels to be patient. Daraa op could never start at all.
    https://twitter.com/badly_xeroxed/status/1009970099657289728

    Just to show how tense the situation is in the south. Yesterday clashes close to Tanf (confirmed) and US airstrikes (not confirmed) on regime positions. Obviously in the south Assad cannot have a free hand since US presence and Israeli interests.
    https://twitter.com/Hammurabi_News/status/1009881980421492736

  2. 06/22: The Jordanian Army is sending military vehicles, tanks and soldiers to the Syrian-Jordanian border

    Looks like Jordan is doing another Turkey type invasion in the south. But of course Andre will denounce the Jordanians while cheering the Turks genocide of the Kurds.

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