The Syrian regime intensified its attacks on the southwestern neighbourhood of Daraa al-Balad on Sunday 5 September, in an apparent attempt to force civilians to leave the area.
According to opposition activists, the regime of Bashar al-Assad ordered residents to submit to having their homes searched, for an increased number of checkpoints and to give up their light weaponry as part of a Russian-brokered “peace” deal, which was rejected by the local community. Local elders also rejected demands for increased patrols by Russian forces.
Machine guns, mortar artillery, tanks and Grad missiles were reportedly used against the population, which has already halved in number after two months of attacks, many of them fleeing to Turkey and Jordan. There are thought to be around 20,000 remaining in the area.
The regime has led repeated attacks on Daraa after residents and rebel groups refused these terms.
Sunday’s attacks were conducted by the 4th Division militia, which is allied to Iran. It was the first such attack in four days and follows what was meant to be a ceasefire agreement reached on 1 September.
Local activists said the attacks were the latest attempt to force residents to flee the area, clearing the way for a full takeover by the Assad regime.
Over the past few weeks, forces loyal to the regime have prevented food, medicine and fuel from entering Daraa, adding to the humanitarian disaster there.
The attacks on Daraa began on 29 July, leading to clashes across the countryside, with civilians caught in the middle.
Daraa is a particularly important area in the ongoing Syrian conflict and was the first to rise up against the regime in 2011.
Details of casualties resulting from Sunday’s attacks are still emerging.
Elsewhere in Syria, Russian warplanes killed a child and injured two civilians in the village of Kansafra, northwestern Idlib province.
The bombardment also killed numerous cattle at an animal shelter.
The villages of Fattire, Binin and Shinan in Jabal Zawiya were also attacked with regime artillery, but there have been no reports of casualties.