World appeals for halt to pro-Assad attacks and care of displaced — No one listening
- The Women Fighting Extremism in Syria’s Idlib
Russia carried out more bombing of Daraa Province in southern Syria on Thursday, bringing yet another resumption of surrender talks with rebels.
The talks, mediated by Jordan, have broken down twice since last Saturday, only to be renewed after Russia and the Assad regime punished Daraa with airstrikes and ground assaults.
The attacks have displaced 320,000 people, almost 40% of the population of the province where Syria’s uprising began in March 2011.
The surrender negotiations have foundered on two issues: whether Russian military police or regime forces will patrol the reoccupied Daraa and Quneitra Provinces, and whether rebels must give up all heavy weapons at the same time or in a staged process.
The opposition fears that, with fully disarmed rebels and the entry of regime troops and security services, there will be mass detentios and forced detentions — as was the case with eastern Aleppo city in December 2016 and East Ghouta near Damascus in April.
On Thursday, Russia struck near the Jordanian border, including an attack on a displaced persons’ camp. Pro-opposition activists said Russian warplanes briefly crossed into Jordanian airspace, but there was no protest from Amman amid its consultations with Russian officials, including a meeting of Foreign Ministers in Moscow.
Bombing was reported across the province, including on Saida, al-Naima, Umm al-Mayathin, Naseeb, Taiba in the east and the towns of Tafas and Yadouda to the west as well as on the Old City section of Daraa.
Local sources said pro-Assad forces entered Saida after a “brutal attack”, while assaults on Tafas, al-Yadoda, and the Old City were repelled.
Opposition spokesman Ibrahim Jabawi later said the negotiations in Busra al-Sham, a historic town on the border, will restart on Friday.
Pro-Assad outlets boasted that regime forces and armored vehicles had reached the Jordanian border for the first time in years. Pro-opposition activists confirmed the advance:
S. #Syria: more photos showing Assad & #Russia|n forces after taking control of border with #Jordan & nearby villages (S. of Bosra, #Daraa prov.) without fight. https://t.co/sKoZFPYyIc pic.twitter.com/jFY35C0f0M
— Qalaat Al Mudiq (@QalaatAlMudiq) July 5, 2018
Russia: We Have “Issues” Over Those Displaced by Attacks
Unwilling or unable to check the Russian-regime assault, the UN and other countries appealed again on Thursday for some assistance for the displaced.
The UNHCR refugee agency repeated its call on Jordan to open its borders, with about 60,000 gathered at the Naseeb crossing.
Amman says it can host no more refugees beyond the 660,000 registered Syrians who are already in the country. Jordan closed its border in 2016, trapping about 75,000 people at the time in the Rukban area.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres restated his grave concern and urged an immediate end to fighting. His spokesman Stephane Dujarric said an “estimated 750,000 lives are in danger”.
But as the Security Council was briefed behind closed doors, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia waved away the appeals saying that Russia has “issues” over the number of displaced cited by the UN.
To enable pro-Assad advances and force the surrender talks, Russia has broken a “de-escalation zone” which Moscow and the US declared last July.
Washington, which said four times before the June 19 offensive that it would make a “firm” response to any attacks, was silent on Thursday.