The remains of a bus carrying Assad regime troops after it was bombed in Daraa Province, southern Syria, June 20, 2020
An Assad regime general has been killed amid ongoing violence and insurgency in southern Syria.
Brig. Gen. Talal Qassem of the army’s 5th Division was shot dead on Wednesday night by gunmen riding a motorcycle, on a road near Busra Harir in northeast Daraa Province.
He is the second regime general slain in the province since, enabled by Russia, pro-Assad forces recaptured southern Syria in July 2018.
Since then, there have been more than 500 assassination attempts, with more than 300 people killed, in Daraa and Quneitra Provinces. Reports say about 225 pro-Assad troops and officials, including 45 former rebels, have been slain since June 2019, by shootings, IEDs, and motorcycle and car bombs. About 60 civilians have died.
In the past month, there have been a series of killings of Assad regime troops and of members of “reconciliation committees” negotiating with regime forces. Victims include the mayor of the town of Lajat, a regime military intelligence officer, and a leading “reconciliation” figure, who switched from the rebels to the regime’s 5th Corps.
On August 20, there were clashes in eastern Daraa Province after regime security raided a village to arrest suspects. Multiple casualties were reported before Russian troops deployed to halt the violence.
Last November, the regime appointed Maj. Gen. Hussam Loqa as head of the “Security Committee” for southern Syria to stabilize the area. He promised force to “impose the state authority” and to “end armed activity and hand over wanted individuals and weapons”. Pro-opposition activists claim the regime’s security services stepped up “assassinations, kidnappings, and forced disappearances”.
But the insurgency in Daraa, the site of the initial uprising in March 2011 against the regime, continued. Regime forces tried to oust rebels from the town on Sanamayn in northern Daraa, but they did not check the attack.
On May 4, nine Internal Security officers were killed in Muzayrib by a former opposition commander who accused the regime of kidnapping and killing his son and son-in-law.
The regime then sent military reinforcements to western Daraa Province, but three members of a “reconciliation committee” were assassinated on May 27. Shootings have continued through the summer.