Syria’s rebel-held Daraa Al-Balad region has faced further bombardment by regime forces after talks between local representatives and Russia failed.
Civilians in Daraa faced airstrikes and tank fire on Wednesday, 19 August, while regime-allied forces clashed with local rebel forces on the outskirts of the region throughout the day.
It is believed that the day of the conflict began when the regime’s Fourth Division, which is linked to Iran, clashed with local fighters at the Al-Kazia roundabout.
This was followed by regime tanks firing at multiple locations across the region, including refugee camps and villages. Meanwhile, airstrikes are thought to have struck the city of Tafas among other targets.
It was also reported that a local youth was shot dead on Tuesday night, although he is not thought to have been involved in any of the armed groups.
The conflict started to reignite in Daraa in June, when local forces led huge protests against the presidential election result, which had returned Bashar al-Assad to power with 95.19% of the vote, in a race widely regarded as fraudulent. As a result of this opposition, and in response to local fighters refusing to hand over light weaponry to the regime, Daraa was placed under siege on 25 June.
Since late July, the region has faced regular bombing raids and incursions by regime forces.
There had been some hope that talks on Tuesday between Russia – a key supporter of the Assad regime – and the local rebel central committee would bring respite to the residents of Daraa.
However, negotiations quickly broke down, after Russia reportedly demanded that local groups surrender their weapons and stand down.
The talks were part of what Russia calls its “solution roadmap”, which has been strongly criticised by rebel groups and seems only to offer solutions benefiting the regime.
The Assad regime is desperate to regain control of Daraa, which has continued its opposition to the Assad regime despite the government regaining control of most of the country. The region has long been a centre for rebel activity in Syria. It was one of the first regions to show opposition to the Assad regime during the Arab Spring of 2011, and soon forced the regime to leave the area.
It was retaken by the regime in 2018 under an imposed “peace deal” – those who did not agree to the terms were exiled to northern Syria, while those remaining lived under regime control.
At least 600,000 are thought to have been killed throughout the Syrian conflict over the past decade, with more than a million more displaced.