Syrian regime claims early success in Daraa offensive

Syrian regime claims early success in Daraa offensive
Government forces and allies say they have "full control" of key towns in southern province, a claim dismissed by opposition fighters as a deception.
2 min read
20 April, 2015
Rebels said they never controlled the towns claimed by the regime [AFP]

Syrian regime forces and their allies have launched an offensive in Daraa in an attempt to reclaim the initiative in the south of the country.

The attacks began on Monday, a day after the Syrian defence minister, Fahd Jassem al-Freij, visited the towns of Busr al-Harir, Melihat al-Atash and other surrounding areas in an attempt to boost morale amng regime forces.

The official Sana news agency said the initial offensive had been successful. "Units of the army and the armed forces on Monday established full control over a number of towns in the northeastern countryside of southern Daraa province.

"The army established full control over the towns of Msaika al-Sharqiya, Msaika al-Gharbiya, Rasm al-Khawabi, Ashnan and al-Dallasa during a military operation carried out in the northeastern countryside of the province."

However Imad al-Hourani, an activist, told al-Araby al-Jadeed that the offensive was a faint to draw its enemies away from vital regime bases.

"The regime fears an attack on Brigade 52 or losing the supply route connecting the town of Azra to Suweida, in which case the Thaala airbase would be subject to opposition fire," he said.

Brigade 52 is an armoured formation and the regime's main fighting force in Deraa.

"Clashes are ongoing on the outskirts of Busr al-Harir, but the regime's forces have advanced deep into al-Luja, which is currently closed," Hourani added.

     These towns were not even liberated and they have always been under the regime's control.
Ibrahim Noureddine, FSA

Ibrahim Noureddine, a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army's First Legion, denied the regime's claims of an advance on Monday.

"The regime's announcement is false. These towns were not even liberated and they have always been under the regime's control," he said. "The regime is trying to convince its supporters that it is still strong and has the upper hand."

Control of Busr al-Harir, which is considered the gate to rebel-held areas in Daraa's eastern countryside, would isolate the town from al-Lujah in the north, Azra in the west, and Suweida in the south-east.

Over the past few weeks, Syrian opposition factions had managed to achieve major victories against the regime, namely taking over Busra al-Sham and the Nasib border crossing to Jordan.

This is an edited translation of the original Arabic.