Russia hired surrendered Daraa rebels to fight the Isis on the side of al-Assad’s government, but now the deal has broken and new fighting has begun.
In 2011 all started with graffiti. In the city of Daraa, near the Jordanian border in southwestern Syria, a text was written on the wall: “The people want to overthrow the government”.
The slogan was familiar from Tunisia and Egypt, where the Arab Spring uprisings had begun a little earlier. In Syria, the president Bashar al-Assadin the administration responded to the graffiti by arresting a group of 10- to 15-year-old schoolboys. In prison, the authorities tortured the boys. They were beaten and their nails removed.
Families demanded the release of their children, and protests caught fire in Daraa. During the spring of 2011, they intensified and spread across the country. A civil war broke out that has lasted for a decade and claimed nearly half a million lives.
Read more: Organization: Nearly half a million people have now died in the Syrian war
In summer In 2018, the Daraa rebels surrendered to Russia-mediated peace talks, and the government regained control of most of the region. Now, three years later, the unrest has worsened again in the city where the Civil War once began.
Thursday’s attacks have claimed at least 28 lives, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says. According to the organization, these are “the most violent and widespread clashes since the region came under government control”.
Thursday Bashar al-Assad’s forces attacked an opposition base in the Daraa al-Balad area in the city of Daraa with missiles and artillery ammunition. The attack, which began in the morning, lasted all day. The news agencies Reuters and AFP reported, among others.
“We woke up at seven. We have been besieged everywhere and are being bombarded indiscriminately everywhere… There is no water or electricity here and we don’t have enough food, ”a local resident Abu Ahmed told the British newspaper The Guardian by.
Abu Ahmed said locals had tried to prevent tanks and soldiers from entering, however, without any actual armed resistance.
At least eight government soldiers, nine opposition fighters and 11 civilians were killed in the attacks, according to the observatory. There were also children among the dead.
Read more: In Daraa, Syria, 15 fighters and eight civilians were killed
Local according to sources, the rebels launched a counterattack in rural Daraa after the government attack. In addition, the rebels captured at least 40 government soldiers.
A volunteer organization known as a white helmet wrote a messaging service On Twitterthat tens of thousands of civilians have drifted “on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe” in Daraa since the bombing of government and Russian forces.
In summer In 2015, Syrian government forces now controlled less than a fifth of Syria, but the situation took a significant turn in September of the same year as Russia intervened in the conflict. Russia supported al-Assad’s forces, and by April 2019, more than 60 percent of Syria was back under control.
The rebels left many of the areas recaptured by the government in the province of Idlib on the Turkish border, which is still in the hands of the rebels. Daraa is an exception. Much of the surrendered rebels remained in the area with their families.
Russia brokered an agreement between the Daraa rebels and the Syrian regime. As a result of the negotiations, in the summer of 2018, the state gained control of much of Daraa, and the rebels surrendered their weapons.
Russia recruited surrendered rebels into a local armed group to fight on the side of government forces against the jihadist organization Isis.
In 2019 it was published research, according to which the rebels who opposed the government agreed to fight on its side for a variety of reasons. One motive was money, another was security, and the third was a desire for revenge on other enemy groups.
Russia paid relatively good wages to former rebels. At the same time, it protected many rebels who ran into problems with al-Assad authorities.
According to The Guardian, unconfirmed sources have said that former rebels recruited by Russian strike forces have stayed out of the fighting and tried to advance peace talks. According to locals, the fighting continued despite this.
Daraassa political violence and confrontation have been present since the peace agreement. The state has nominally ruled the area, but the rebels have prevented authorities from entering certain areas and protected both people wanted by the state and anti-government protesters.
Tensions have escalated May presidential election from. Bashar al-Assad, who has ruled Syria since 2000, was elected for his fourth seven-year term.
Read more: In Syria, Bashar al-Assad was elected with a landslide victory for the fourth presidency in Syria, elections have been widely criticized
In Daraa, many boycotted the election and did not accept the election result, which they considered fraudulent.
International observers have also agreed that the Syrian elections were not free. The most significant opposition candidates could not run as they live in exile. In addition, the opportunity to vote in Syria was offered only to those people living in government-controlled areas.
The government has responded to Daraa’s protest by cutting off roads, water and electricity from neighborhoods. As a result, tens of thousands of people have been left without food and medicine.
The government the sympathetic newspaper al-Watan called the events in Dara a military operation “against covert terrorists who violated the settlement agreement”. The government and Daraa’s rebels have been negotiating a settlement in recent weeks, but negotiations have failed. On Friday, talks resumed to end the violence.
Investigator Elizabeth Tsurkov The Newlines Institute thought incubator said The Guardian that the escalation of unrest in Daraa al-Balad is a sign of the breakdown of Russian-mediated talks. With the negotiations stalling, al-Assad will be able to adopt a “solution” that has been advocated from the beginning, Tsurkov estimates.
“If Russia does not intervene and seek to end the fighting and negotiate a ceasefire, the violence will lead to the deaths and refugees of even more civilians, and probably the complete subjugation of Daraa al-Balad to government.”