Syria Daily: Russia — We Will Join Pro-Assad Offensive on South

Smoke rises above Nawa in western Daraa Province after bombardment by pro-Assad forces, June 26, 2018

Russia puts out conflicting statements over involvement with Daraa assault


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UPDATE 1330 GMT: The Russian Defense Ministry has denied leaving the agreement with the US for a “de-escalation zone” in southern Syria.

However, the Ministry acknowledged that it is carrying out airstrikes in support of a pro-Assad offensive, labelling these as a “response to violations by extremist terrorist groups against Syrian government forces”.


Russia has officially announced that it is joining the pro-Assad offensive against Syria’s opposition in the south of the country, confirming its violations of a “de-escalation zone” announced with the US last July.

The Russian military at the Hmeimim airbase in western Syria issued the announcement on Tuesday, a week after the start of the pro-Assad shelling, bombing, and ground attacks on Daraa Province, where the Syrian uprising began in March 2011.

“The end of the period of reduced escalation in southern Syria can be confirmed after it was breached by extremist groups and illegitimate armed groups operating against Syrian government forces, while the agreement remains in the [northwest] Syrian province of Idlib,” base official wrotes on Facebook.

Russia had already joined the bombing last weekend, with local sources saying they had tracked warplanes from Hmeimim carrying out dozens of raids.

The statement falsely declared:

Russian bombers do not target civilian sites by any means. Our missions are limited to the destruction of the terrorist bases belonging to the Nusra Front and ISIS terrorists, in order to support friendly land forces advancing on the ground.

There are no Islamic State fighters in the zone, except for a pocket of western Daraa Province controlled by a local ISIS affiliate. Jabhat al-Nusra, now part of the jihadist bloc Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, also has no significant presence in the area, in which the rebel Southern Front is the largest force.

Russia issued similar false declarations to cover its essential involvement in the Assad regime’s recapture of eastern Aleppo city in December 2016, in the conventional and chemical attacks that subdued the East Ghouta area near Damascus this spring, and in assaults on other areas of Syria which ended the “de-escalation zones”.

Russia Breaks Its Declaration on “Non-Syrian Forces”

Tuesday’s statement puts to rest last month’s call by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov for all “non-Syrian forces” to withdraw from Daraa and Quneitra Provinces, near the Jordanian border and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The Foreign Minister spoke after meetings with Israeli officials, who warned of intervention if any Hezbollah or Iranian-led foreign militia were involved in the offensive. In response, Lavrov pointed to a political process to obtain rebel departure from the area controlled by the opposition since 2012.

But the Assad regime’s forces, which have not made a major advance in the Syrian conflict without Russian airpower and the Hezbollah and Iranian-led fighters, struggled over the past week to make any gains despite shelling and bombardment that displaced up to 50,000 people. As of Tuesday, only a couple of villages in eastern Daraa Province were confirmed in regime hands, while there were disputed accounts about the status of the town of Busra al-Harir, where much of the attacks have been concentrated.

The US had said on four occasions since late May, including three last week, that it would take “firm and appropriate” measures against any pro-Assad offensive. However, over the weekend, US officials in Jordan warned rebels that they could not count on any American intervention.

Washington issued no statement in response to the Russian burial of the de-escalation agreement. National Security Advisor John Bolton is due in Moscow on Wednesday for talks with Lavrov and other Russian officials.

The Russians have also conferred with Jordanian officials, who said earlier this week that they will not open their border to any people displaced by the pro-Assad assault.

See Syria Daily, June 26: Jordan and US Accepting Pro-Assad Offensive in South?

Pro-opposition sites reported a Facebook announcement by the Iranian-backed Iraqi Zulfiqar militia that it has joined the offensive.

“The soldiers of the Syrian regime army and the Zulfiqar Brigade are now in the heart of Basr al-Harir town in eastern countryside of Daraa,” the militia declared.

Pro-Assad forces bombed across Daraa Province on Tuesday, including attacks on Nawa, the largest city in the territory. Pro-opposition activists said 11 people, including two women and three children, were killed.


OPCW Given Authority to Assign Blame for Chemical Attacks

Members of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have voted to give inspectors the authority to assign blame for chemical attacks.

The vote obtained a two-thirds majority despite the opposition of Russia, which has provided diplomatic cover for the Assad regime’s attacks with chlorine and sarin.

British delegate Peter Wilson, who drafted the proposal, summarized:

Between 2015 and 2017, the OPCW as able to apportion responsibility through a Joint Investigative Mechanism.

However, Russia vetoed the extension of the JIM’s mandate, after the inspectors found the Assad regime culpable for the April 2017 sarin attack on Khan Sheikhoun in northwest Syria, killing about 90 people and wounding hundreds.


Multiple Casualties from Bombings in Afrin in Northwest

Bombings in Afrin city in northwest Syria caused multiple casualties on Wednesday.

Afrin was the center of the Syrian Kurdish canton of the same name, but the city and much of the canton was captured in March by a two-month Turkish-rebel offensive.

The explosions were a square in front of a rebel faction’s headquarters, the first with a rigged car and the second by an attacker with an explosive al-Jabha al-Shamia headquarters: the first one because of a booby-trapped car and the second due to an explosive belt. Local activists also reported a third explosion in front of Dersim Hospital, causing injuries.

Claims of people killed range from three to 20.

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.

11 COMMENTS

  1. “Russia — We Will Join Pro-Assad Offensive on South”
    .
    They already had ‘joined’ the offensive!
    A few more 10,000 deaths and 100,000 more refugees coming in near future. When will somebody have the balls to stop these thugs?
    It is quite obvious that the UN is defunct when one of the ‘veto’ countries, becomes a rouge state. It is quite obvious what the brutal Russians will do with the repeated pattern of destroying the hospitals and civil defence first followed by the infrastructure and meanwhile killing as many civilians as they can. Their recent history shows that they do not keep their word, lie about their intentions and produce huge amounts of lying propaganda about anybody that behaves decently and stands in their way. The whole world now knows what destructive scum they are and there is NO EXCUSE for allowing them to carry on in this manner. There are many ways to stop the Russians, Iranians, Hezbollah and Assad in their tracks without committing boots on the ground.
    Israel has shown that the Syrian air defences are as much use as an ashtray on a motorbike. There is no excuse for not bombing Assad’s basses. The Syrian people have shown that they are willing to fight the influx of foreign jahidists from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq that are invading their country. They just need the right weapons including air defence. During the second world way Churchill said to the Americans “Give us the tools and we shall do the job”. Well that is the situation for the Syrian people now but the whole world has gone deaf. To misuse another pre-WWII message – WAKE UP WORLD.

    • The US has used it’s veto more than anyone to defend human rights abuses at the UNSC. Most recently they used it to kill an investigation into the 100+ Palestinians Israel massacred in Gaza.

      Raqqa is completely uninhabitable after the US turned the city into rubble. Mosul not much better. Nor was Fallujah. Many thousands of civilians killed. Hundreds of thousands killed in Iraq. Tens of thousands killed in Yemen. The US is bombing 8 countries.

      Such a pity nobody had the balls to stop these thugs. The rogue state at the UN is the one that just withdrew from the UN HRC. I’ll grant you that the US does tend to keep it’s word – that it will do what it wants and damn what anyone thinks.

      There are many ways to stop the Russians, Iranians, Hezbollah and Assad in their tracks without committing boots on the ground.

      Yeah sure Barley. It would be a cakewalk. Never mind that such escalation would likely lead to prolonging the war and more dead Syrians.

      Israel has shown that the Syrian air defences are as much use as an ashtray on a motorbike.

      LOL. Syrian air defences have shown that Israeli attacks are pointless. They have not influenced the events on the ground one iota.

      The Syrian people have shown that they are willing to fight the influx of foreign jahidists from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq that are invading their country.

      Which Syrian people are you referring to? Those doing most of the fighting are foreign backed jihadists.

      • “Raqqa is completely uninhabitable after the US turned the city into rubble. Mosul not much better. Nor was Fallujah. Many thousands of civilians killed. Hundreds of thousands killed in Iraq. Tens of thousands killed in Yemen. The US is bombing 8 countries.

        Such a pity nobody had the balls to stop these thugs. The rogue state at the UN is the one that just withdrew from the UN HRC. I’ll grant you that the US does tend to keep it’s word – that it will do what it wants and damn what anyone thinks”

        But iran, russia and Assad approved all this and the axis followers were exultant with what they called the “liberation” of Mosul, even the shiite hordes participated. Otherwise ISIS would still be kicking the axis ass.

        • Wrong and hypocritical. If defraring ISIS justifies whst Assaf and Russia are doing, then what is the problem?

          ISIS were defeated by the axis. ISIS east of the Euphray enjoy protection from the US.

  2. “Rebels” deserve that, they have signed those ridicule agreements while other pockets of resistance were being annihilated. It was disunity that ultimately led them to this state of things against an incompetent SAA. Southern front’s inaction is LEGENDARY, they served only for the purpose of fighting ISIS on behalf of their foreign masters (the same ones who now keep the border sealed).

    • I might add that they are even the best armed of the lot. Now we will see how they use that hardware……

    • Those “pockets of resistance” are terrorist groups exempt from the agreements. The US has been bombing them (sometimes) in the East.

      You know “war on terror” and all that.

      • Like Daraa now??, seems the concept of “terrorist” is a very fluid one. After all this years you’re still unable to come with a more sophisticated vision of the conflict than the one brodcasted by the most elemental propaganda?

        • What would you consider a sophisticated version of the conflcit. In spite of the fast Assad controls 90% of the populated areas and that there are only a few pockets of fighters remaining, Your fellow regime changers are still pushing the line that they represent the “Syrian people”

  3. YPG “Afrin falcons” car-bombed Afrin today, 10 dead. A refreshing reminder that Islamic insurgent groups don’t have a complete monopoly on employing VBIEDs in urban areas.

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