Daraa rebels seize checkpoints kill regime soldiers: sources
Rebels in the southern Syrian province of Daraa have killed a number of regime soldiers after taking over their checkpoints, sources have told The New Arab.
Mohamed Al-Asaker, an activist from Daraa, sent The New Arab photos of what appear to be ten regime soldiers killed after rebels took over their checkpoints on Thursday.
The New Arab was not able to independently verify the claim, but a local fighter confirmed the authenticity of the photo.
In addition, local media outlet, "The Free Men of Houran", reported that 70 regime soldiers had been captured during Thursday's fighting when the regime attempted to take over the Daraa Al-Balad district of the city.
The Syrian regime's Fourth Division has been trying to advance into Daraa al-Balad from three points - the areas of Al-Nakhla, Qassad and Al-Qubba, after a deal ending a month-long stand-off between rebels and regime fell apart.
The Syria Campaign said the Fourth Division shelled homes in Daraa Al-Balad, forcing families to search the rubble for dead loved ones and flee to neighbouring Daraa Al-Mahatta.
The division also placed snipers on rooves to attack those who are fleeing the area, the human rights organisation said.
Regime troops were met with gunfire from local fighters as they tried to advance into Daraa Al-Balad, journalist and activist Muhammad Al-Shalabi told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed on Thursday morning.
Local fighters have seized ten checkpoints to the east and west of the city since Wednesday in their pushback against regime forces, local opposition media reported, seizing weaponry including a tank, pickup trucks with AA guns mounted onto them, and a military radar.
Regime forces have been heavily shelling the area throughout Thursday. One man has been killed by the artillery fire, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Videos posted to Telegram show rebels in Daraa Al-Balad holding light machine guns and RPGs, stating their intention to fight regime forces in what they called "the battle of dignity".
The fighting comes after a month-long siege on the Daraa Al-Balad area by the regime, with soldiers blocking electricity, water, and all roads into the section of Daraa city.
The siege started after Daraa Al-Balad refused to accept the results of Syria's presidential elections in May, widely condemned as fraudulent by the international community.
The siege sparked a humanitarian crisis in the city, cutting off the entry of all goods except the trickle of those smuggled in.
The siege was due to be lifted over the weekend, after a deal was struck between Daraa's negotiating committee and regime forces on 24 July.
The deal stipulated that the residents of Daraa Al-Balad had to hand over a certain amount of light weaponry and allow the regime to install three security checkpoints within the city. In return, the regime would issue pardons for a number of local individuals, lift the siege, withdraw its forces from the city and disarm local militias which are backed by the regime.
However, disagreements over its implementation led to regime forces re-imposing the siege on Tuesday.