Regime troops killed, injured in attempted advance on Daraa
Several troops from the Syrian regime’s Fourth Division were killed and wounded on Monday as they tried to advance on the besieged Daraa Al-Balad area of Daraa city in southern Syria.
Abu Al-Baraa Al-Hourani, a member of the Free People of Houran media activist group, told The New Arab’s Arabic-language service that "violent clashes with automatic weapons broke out at midday on Monday, between young men from Daraa on the one hand and Fourth Division militias supported by Iran on the other".
He said that fighting started when the Fourth Division and its pro-Iranian militia allies tried to advance on Daraa Al-Balad from the neighbouring Manshiya area. Iran is one of the key backers of the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad.
"Members of the Fourth Division were killed and injured after young men from Daraa thwarted their attempt [to enter Daraa Al-Balad] and they did not make any significant gains on the ground," Al-Hourani added, without specifying the number killed or injured.
"Fourth Division forces used heavy machine guns and mortars against The Ghassan Mosque in Daraa Al-Balad, causing great damage to the mosque, without any human casualties," he said.
The city and province of Daraa have been controlled by the Assad regime since 2018 after rebel forces agreed to a peace deal following a heavy regime assault.
The area was one of the first in Syria to see demonstrations against President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime in 2011 and has been restive and unstable since reverting to regime control, with frequent attacks on regime checkpoints and anti-regime protests, as well as attacks on former rebels and opposition activists.
The regime imposed a siege on Daraa Al-Balad in June, after local residents refused to take part in presidential elections which were widely dismissed as a sham and saw Assad win with an improbable 95.1 percent of the vote.
People in Daraa Al-Balad are running out of flour, water, and fuel as a result of the siege. Negotiations to end the siege have so far stalled.
East of Daraa, unknown rebels attacked a checkpoint belonging to the regime’s notorious Air Force Intelligence near the town of Museifra, according to Al-Hourani, who said that there was no information about casualties.
Elsewhere in Syria, seven people were injured when a truck bomb exploded in the city of Azaz in the north of the country, near the Turkish border.
The city is controlled by Turkish-backed Syrian fighters.