Clashes in Daraa as talks between Syrian regime and locals falter

Clashes in Daraa as talks between Syrian regime and locals falter
Residents of Daraa are fearful of a takeover by the Syrian army's Fourth Division and Iranian militias.
2 min read
04 August, 2021
Fighting between regime forces and local rebels has flared up in Daraa in recent weeks [Getty]

Sporadic clashes took place in the southern Syrian province of Daraa on Wednesday, as local officials and the Syrian regime continued negotiations on ending fighting in the regime-besieged area.

Regime forces targeted neighbourhoods in Daraa Al-Balad, a district in Daraa City, with heavy machine gunfire and shelling, according to a local activist who spoke to The New Arab's Arabic-language service, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

Activist Mohammed Al-Hourani reported that a state of fear has gripped the city over fears that Iranian-commanded, pro-regime forces could soon be allowed to enter their neighbourhoods.

Locals believe these units could violently expel them from their homes.

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Iranian militias have been accused of using violence against Syrian civilians to instate demographic changes along sectarian lines.

The regime's recent assault on Daraa has been led by the Syrian army's notorious Fourth Division and Iranian militias. Sources who spoke to the Al-Araby Al-Jadeed said the regime has little influence over these groups, increasing fear among local residents.

Daraa, which was a key flashpoint region in Syria's 2011 uprisings, was recaptured by Damascus in 2018, but regime forces have not been deployed fully across the province as part of a reconciliation deal.

Recent clashes between government forces and local opposition fighters have been described by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based monitor, as the "most violent and broadest" since the regime re-took control of the southern province in 2018.