51 killed in Syria's Daraa province in April as violence escalates

51 killed in Syria's Daraa province in April as violence escalates
A new report shows the extent of Daraa's recent uptick in violence as assassinations surge in the southern province.
3 min read
02 May, 2022
The back-and-forth violence between rebels, regime fighters and gangs have created security chaos in the southern province. [Getty]

Over 50 people were killed and 35 wounded in the Daraa province in April, marking a sharp escalation in violence in the southern Syrian province.

According to a local monitoring body, Daraa's Martyrs Documentation Office, there were 90 assassinations and assassination attempts over the last month.

The majority (31) of those killed were either civilians or former-opposition fighters given amnesty by the regime, while 20 were regime or regime-affiliated soldiers. Most of the assassinations were carried out by unknown gunmen.

On Sunday afternoon, two car bombs exploded in different locations in Daraa, killing at least one regime soldier. Gunmen then targeted regime fighters at the scene of one of the blasts.

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Since Syria's Assad regime retook the formerly rebel-held province in the summer of 2018, assassinations and kidnappings have become commonplace.

“The province has become a sort of Wild West where the regime does not have a monopoly of violence and a host of actors … are all competing for power and control,” Nicolas Heras, the deputy director of the Human Security Unit at Newlines institute, told The New Arab.

Though the regime is nominally in control of Daraa, former opposition elements have waged a low-level insurgency against the regime since 2018. Regime-affiliated fighters and militias also target civilians and former opposition fighters with impunity.

The province was afforded a degree of autonomy from 2018 until the regime launched a military campaign to crush dissent and re-enforce its control throughout the province in the summer of 2021.

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Following its reconquest of Daraa in the fall, the regime started a new process for former opposition fighters to gain amnesty. These fighters have been regularly targeted by unknown gunmen and subject to arbitrary arrest and disappearance by regime security officials, despite receiving amnesty.

Reconciled rebels also face conscription into the regime's army, and are often sent to the frontlines in northwest Syria or to comb the central Syrian desert for IS cells.

“The Assad regime has tried to enforce its conscription laws and clamped down on local autonomy in a manner that is leading former opposition actors to push back.,” Heras said.

“The easiest way for the Assad regime to alleviate the situation is to abide better by its autonomy deals that it made with former armed opposition groups,” he added.

The current security chaos in Daraa has also victimized civilians. Syrians across the world erupted into outrage in February after a six-year-old boy was kidnapped and held for ransom by an unknown gang.

Daraa is known as the "cradle" of Syria's uprising for hosting the country's first mass protests in 2011 against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's regime.