Syrians in Daraa fear new regime assault, as warning leaflets are dropped on opposition province

Syrians in Daraa fear new regime assault, as warning leaflets are dropped on opposition province
Syrians in Daraa fear a new regime assault, as leaflets are dropped on the opposition province warning of an offensive.
2 min read
25 May, 2018
Syrians are fearing a new offensive on Daraa [Anadolu]

Syrians in Daraa province are fearing for their lives, as regime aircraft drop hundreds of leaflets over the opposition province this week warning of a new assault.

According to AFP reports, the leaflets feature a picture of a line of dead bodies, reading: "This is the fate of anyone who insists on carrying arms". 

Others have demanded rebels lay down their arms or face death.

Although the leaflets, urging surrender, appear aimed at Syrian rebel fighters, civilians in the southern province bordering Jordan are also fearful of the impeding offensive.

Scores of Syrians were killed in previous assaults by the regime last year, with napalm, missiles and barrel bombs hitting Daraa's towns and villages.

Daraa - which is known as the "cradle of the Syrian revolution" - is one of the last areas under opposition control outside Idlib province.

Earlier this week, Turkish news agency Anadolu reported that the regime was planning a fresh offensive on Daraa province to capture the al-Nassib border crossing with Jordan from the Free Syrian Army.

Scores of military vehicles - many belonging to Iranian militias - have been pouring south, close to the regime's frontlines with the rebels.

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The area is covered by a Russian-sponsored de-escalation zone, which has been strongly supported by neighbour Jordan - fearful of turmoil on its border and new waves of refugees.

But Jordan has also been increasingly keen for Syrian border crossing to reopen, losing around $800 million a year from the suspension on land transit points to Damascus.

Syria's rebels said they would only agree to hand over the Nassib crossing to the regime - so that the border point could re-open - if the five conditions were met, including the release of prisoners.

Bashar al-Assad's regime have refused to meet these demands.

Syrians also fear that Islamic State group fighters in a small pocket of land in the Yarmouk Valley could launch a fresh assault on opposition territories in Daraa if the regime attacks.

Daraa was one of the first areas to rise up against the Syrian regime, and intensified following the torture and murder of 13-year-old Hamza al-Khateeb in May 2011.

His death sparked a major backlash against Assad, with Syrians sickened at his murders turning up in greater numbers at demonstrations against the regime.