Syria Daily: Start of the Pro-Assad Offensive in the South?

A pro-Assad convoy, including armored vehicles, moving towards Daraa Province in southern Syria, June 19, 2018

Clashes and shelling in northern Daraa Province in southern Syria


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Pro-Assad forces may have started their long-awaited offensive on opposition areas in southern Syria, despite warnings of Israeli intervention and a supposed US-Russia “de-escalation zone”.

There were reports of clashes, regime shelling — including by tanks — and bombing across eastern Daraa Province, where the uprising began in March 2011. Claims circulated of dozens of casualties.

A rebel comander warned of “volcanoes of fire” if the pro-Assad forces extended their attacks along the Jordanian border and near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Among those killed by the shelling was a volunteer of the White Helmets civil defense, who have lost almost 200 personnel to pro-Assad attacks and Russian bombing since 2013:

The Assad regime, which insists that it will regain “every inch” of Syria, has looked towards the south after reoccupying the East Ghouta area near Damascus in April with months of bombing, ground assaults, and chemical attacks. The opposition has held much of Daraa and Quneitra Provinces since 2012.

Israel warned that it would intervene if any Hezbollah or Iranian-led foreign militia are involved in the offensive. After talks with Russia, which has had a cooperative arrangement with Israel since September 2015, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said all “non-Syrian forces” should leave the south and called for a political process to bring about rebel departure.

Lavrov’s statement left open the option of an offensive with only regime forces; however, the Syrian army has not been able to regain opposition territory without Russian airstrikes and foreign militias on the ground.

The US and Russia declared a de-escalation zone in July 2017. Moscow has broken other de-escalation commitments across the country, however, including its essential involvement in the recapture of East Ghouta and parts of northwest Syria.

The US warned last week that it will take “firm and appropriate measures” against any violations of the zone. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was more cautious yesterday amid reports of the pro-Assad attacks.


No Advance in Russian-Led Talks for New Constitution

Russia, Turkey, and Iran have failed to advance in their discussions of a committee to draft a new Syrian Constitution.

Since early 2016, Moscow has taken over the political process, holding a series of conferences in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana and in Sochi in southern Russia. The Russians are seeking arrangements which will maintain the Assad regime in power, as it regains most — but not all — of Syria.

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura has backed the effort, with Tuesday’s meeting held in Geneva. In a brief statement yesteray, de Mistura maintained that “some common ground was beginning to emerge”: “Constructive exchanges and substantive discussions took place on issues relevant to the establishment and functioning of a constitutional committee.”

He said the Assad regime has presented a list of 50 names to be part of the committee.

But Yahya al-Aridi, spokesperson for the opposition Syrian Negotiation Commission, said from Istanbul, Turkey:

There are many aspects that are not yet clear about the prospected constitutional committee.

We are asking many questions about the formation, functions, terms of reference of this committee. Who will be accredited to participate? Is it going to be part of the transitional process? That is why there is a delay in the presentation of the list of names that should be part of it on behalf of the opposition.

Aridi warned that “there are small groups that are not considered by the people as opposition who are rushing to present their credentials” to join the committee.

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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.

21 COMMENTS

            • i just know you are a fraud. And if people go back reading EA daily of the 19/06 they will understand finally who you really are/aren’t.

              • Just cuz the archive stops in 2013. But no difference for you i am sorry. 11 or 13 makes no difference. You got caught in lying hands down. You sir are a fraud. Full stop.

              • Just cuz the archive stops in 2013. But no difference for you i am sorry. 11 or 13 makes no difference.

                Then why does 13 or 15 make any difference? We are both out by 2 years. Is it because your lies as OK? OR does that makes us both frauds?

                Can’t have it both ways

              • I dont lie you pathetic thing. Stop deflecting. You said you dident participate here untill 2015. U lied. You are in here AT LEAST from 2013, from when the archive starts. There is only one lier here and its you.

              • Not deflecting anything. I admitted to my mistake.

                You are walking back your initial claims and changed your story at least twice already.

                First you claimed I was on this forum since 2011. Then you claimed the only reason you couldn’t produce any comments from me from 2011 was because the archives only starts 2013. Now you are claiming I started commenting at least from 2013.

                I was wrong by 2 years and so were you. In fact, I recall that I came across this forum after the August 2013 CW incident. You won’t find any comments from me pre August 2013.

                Evidently you are so desperate to win any cost out of frustration – probably because Assad/Russia won the war and the US looks more impotent than ever.

              • I aint changing nothing and i was not wrong on anything, stop making a fool of yourself. You said a big lie, you were caught. END of it. Now keep giving us your daily bs like in your last paragraph.

  1. I think it is pretty clear that unless the US or Israel attack SAA on the ground from the air, the rebels will not be able to hold out for too long. In particular that Russia and Iran and Hezbollah are covertly assisting SAA to the maximum possible. It is really up to US/Israel if they wish to create a southern buffer zone. In particular that the Druze will join this southern partition if it is backed by the coalition, and the southern partition can be extended easily to Tanf. But US ‘will’ is not there and Israel is not going to sink its resources without US backing. I am afraid Trump will overcome objections from other departments within the government. And the Europeans can go and jump in the lake, as far as everyone is concerned. No more Blair and Sarkozy, to be found.

      • Yeah, quite a pity that Qaddafi wasn’t able to commit genocide in Libya and kill a few hundred thousand like Assad was able to do. Damn this Blair.

        • The British government admitted there was no threat of Qaddafi committing genocide in Libya and that the Cameron government had invented the threat much like the WMD hype.

          Just goes to show you can fool some of the people all of the time.

            • Near enough

              “We have seen no evidence that the UK Government carried out a proper analysis of the nature of the rebellion in Libya,” the report states. “UK strategy was founded on erroneous assumptions and an incomplete understanding of the evidence.”

              And

              “Despite his rhetoric, the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence,” the Foreign Affairs Committee states clearly.

              Claims based on no evidence is pretty much a euphemism for lies.

              • First, that’s not a “UK Government” report. That’s from one Parliamentary committee.

                Second, while the report questioned the Benghazi rationale, it has been challenged by others within Parliament and Government and by analysts.

                Third, the report does *not* challenge the need for some action over Libya. It says that this action needed to have a wider set of info and analysis, for example, over the situation beyond Qaddafi among different groups in the country.

          • Libyans would have resisted his slaughter and another Syria would have been born. The West saved half a million lives in Libya with a NFZ.

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