Assad regime begins brutal assault on Daraa city

Assad regime begins brutal assault on Daraa city
The Syrian army has launched its operation on rebel-held districts of Daraa city, amplifying concerns of the human toll of the Assad regime's advances.
2 min read
26 June, 2018
The Assad regime has launched an offensive on Daraa [Getty]
The Syrian army is launching its assault on rebel districts of the flashpoint southern city of Daraa, state media said on Tuesday, following a week of escalating operations in the countryside.

Russian-backed Syrian troops have been ramping up their bombardment and ground operations against rebels during the past week in eastern parts of Daraa province.

On Tuesday, state media said the army was launching an "operation" on the city itself, amplifying concerns of the human toll of the Assad regime's advances.

"Syria's army is carrying out targeted air strikes against terrorist positions and fortifications in Daraa," state television reported.

News agency SANA said the strikes were a prelude "before military units advance into the southeastern quarter of the city".

Rebel groups mainly hold the southern half of the city while loyalists control the north.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor reported bombing and clashes in the city on Tuesday.

"Russian and Syrian air strikes, as well as barrel bombs, targeted rebel areas in Daraa city," said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

The monitor said it was the first ground operation inside the city since the escalation began.

Syria's army is pursuing a divide-and-conquer strategy against rebels in the south, seeking to chop up the horseshoe-shaped territory that the opposition holds.

"The regime is seeking to take control of a military base south of the city, which will allow it to cut the route between Daraa city and the Jordanian border, as well as further divide the rebel areas," said Abdel Rahman.

The UN warned that up to 750,000 people were at risk as a result of the week-old offensive on the city.

Neighbouring Jordan, which already has the world's second hightest ratio of refugees per capita after Lebanon, has warned it can not take in another mass influx from Syria.

The Syrian conflict began when the Baath regime, in power since 1963 and led by President Bashar al-Assad, responded with military force to peaceful protests demanding democratic reforms, triggering an armed rebellion fuelled by mass defections from the Syrian army.

According to independent monitors, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed in the war, mostly by the regime and its powerful allies, and millions have been displaced both inside and outside of Syria.

The brutal tactics pursued mainly by the regime, which have included the use of chemical weapons, sieges, mass executions and torture against civilians have led to war crimes investigations.