Syria Daily: US to Opposition in South — “You’re on Your Own” v. Pro-Assad Offensive

Smoke rises from a claimed Russian airstrike on eastern Daraa Province, Syria, June 23, 2018

US officials have told Syria’s opposition that they cannot expect American assistance if pro-Assad forces carry out an offensive to regain territory in the south.

On four occasions since late May, including three last week, the US State Department had pledged “firm and appropriate measures” against any pro-Assad assault to regain Daraa and Quneitra Provinces, along the Jordanian border and near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. On Friday, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley declared that an escalation of shelling and bombing “unambiguously violates” a de-escalation zone proclaimed by the US and Russia last July. She called on Moscow to distance itself from the regime, “Russia will ultimately bear responsibility for any further escalations in ‎Syria.”

But the US Embassy in Amman, Jordan took a far different line with the rebels of the Southern Front on Saturday:

The Embassy tried to cover the public American position with the addition, “We in the United States government understand the difficult conditions you are facing and still advise the Russians and the Syrian regime not to undertake a military measure that violates the zone.”

But unconfirmed reports circulated yesterday that Russia is breaking the de-escalation zone, as it did in enabling the Assad regime’s reoccupation of East Ghouta near Damascus and parts of northwest Syria this spring.

An unnamed source told Reuters, “We have tracked a sortie of five Russian jets that performed 25 raids” by jets that flew from Russia’s Hmeimim airbase in western Syria.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had said last month that “all non-Syrian forces” should leave the southern area. The statement came after Moscow’s meetings with Israeli officials, who have warned of their intervention if the pro-Assad offensive includes Hezbollah and Iranian-led foreign militia.

While Russian airpower and the Iranian-supported militia have ensured a series of advances by pro-Assad forces since 2015, the Assad regime has not retaken a significant opposition area without the assistance.

The pro-Assad forces began their escalation on Tuesday with bombardment of eastern Daraa Province. Rebels said yesterday that they have repelled the assaults, seeking to cut off the town of Lajat from Daraa city, where the Syrian uprising began in March 2011. Observers said the offensive had only retaken one village, Shakoura, in four days of attacks.

At least 11,000 people have reportedly fled their homes in eastern Daraa Province in the past week, with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres demanding an immediate end to the attacks. But, with no abatement, local councils in the province are declaring disaster areas, seeking international intervention and humanitarian assistance.

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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.

10 COMMENTS

  1. So, the Russian air force is bombing the Syrian people. Iran’s militias are shooting and shelling the Syrian people. The world stands by while these thugs carry out genocide and the world does nothing because the American ‘President’ is owned by the Russian dictator Putin. Trump knows that if he does not follow Putin’s orders, then his sexual exploits and the source of his wealth will be revealed by the Kremlin. The whole world is in limbo because nobody has the balls to stand up against that pea brained little squirt named Putin. Meantime men women and children are being slaughtered and nobody lifts a finger! Civilisation is dying and nobody can see it. How long before Assad starts using sarin again, today?

    • Trump is exactly what you said but i am reading that the message in question is probably a fake. And from how its written it looks like it. Not that if its fake it will magically change something on the ground as of help. Better look at israel for that…..


    • So, the Russian air force is bombing the Syrian people.

      What rubbish. You weren’t lamenting that the US were bombing the Syrian people when they bombed the shit out of Raqqa and killed thousands of civilians.

      I didn’t hear you crying about the world standing by and allowing genocide then or in Yemen. You weren’t complaining about the American ‘President’ being owned by the dictator in Saudi Arabia or Israel. Russia had nothing to do with Trump’s wealth. If Putin/Russia had any influence on Trump at all, he would never have imposed sanctions on Russia – but lifted them. He would have withdrawn US troops from Syria long ago. He would never have sent lethal aid to the neo Nazi junta in Kiev.

      The US war on Iraq, based on lies, led to the death of a million Iraqis. There are ten million facing starvation in Yemen when the world’s greatest human catastrophe is taking place. Not a peed from you. So please, spare us with your faux indignation crocodile tears. You’re just upset that the US empire is in rapid decline.

      • ” led to the death of a million Iraqis”

        I think you will find that a quarter of a million is a more accurate figure.

        When you have a good case, don’t spoil it by obvious exaggerations.

        • I think you’ll find that the figure is much closer to a million as you need to include the excess deaths that resulted from the war. That’e Before you even factor in the half a million dead Iraqi children during the 90s. You know the deaths that Madelaine Albright said was “worth it”?

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