Syrian regime kills 8 civilians in Daraa

Syrian regime kills 8 civilians, including 3 children, in Daraa as tensions soar
3 min read
19 March, 2020
The latest flare up, in which three children were killed, comes after a relative lull in violence between the regime and opposition elements in the country’s southwest.
Displaced Syrians returning to Daraa in July 2018, following a ceasefire agreement [Getty]
At least 8 civilians were killed after regime artillery strikes pounded a village near the southwestern Syrian city of Daraa on Wednesday evening, amid a major escalation of tension between government and opposition fighters in the area.

Three children were among the dead, while many others were reported injured, according to activists who spoke to The New Arab.

Activists said the shelling was a response to an earlier attack on Syrian government positions in which two regime soldiers were killed by opposition fighters, who sought to avenge the shooting of three commanders formerly associated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

The local commanders, responsible for upholding the terms of peace agreements linked to 2018 Russian-backed deal, were shot as they approached a checkpoint set up by Syria's Fifth Legion, an volunteer force of the Syrian army, Al-Modon report.

The latest flare up comes after a relative lull in violence in the country's southwest.

Earlier this month, rebel fighters which refused to hand over their weapons came to a settlement with the government, who accompanied a rebel convoy into a crossing near northern Aleppo, which separate regime forces from the Turkish-backed opposition.

As the Syrian conflict enters its tenth year, analysts fear the regime will not hesitate to violate the terms of a joint Russian-Turkish ceasefire brokered earlier this month.

The fragile truce in the country's war-ravaged province of Idlib, the country's final rebel stronghold, include joint patrols conducted by the Russian and Turkish armies, who support opposing sides in the conflict.

The ceasefire, which came after deadly clashes between Ankara and the Moscow-backed Syrian regime, also calls for the establishment of a security corridor along the country's strategic M4 highway, which connects the Idlib city of Saraqeb to the coastal city of Latakia in the west.

On Wednesday, opposition forces blocked the highway with large mounds of rocks, dirt and scrap, in efforts to prevent the patrols. Residents have been partaking in large demonstrations and protests around the highway, expressing anger at the continued presence of the regime and its Russian backer in the area.

"Russia has the blood of a million Syrians on its hands. We will never allow them to step foot on this territory. We have no place to go," said Umm Sayyid, who attended a protest rally on Sunday, told Middle East Eye.

One regime official in Idlib who spoke to The New Arab said the Syrian regime was on standby for a military operation to "take the whole of the M4", decrying what it called attempts by the Turkish opposition "to use human shields to obstruct the patrols".

Read also: Syria's brutal war enters 10th year

While the current truce halted the ground campaign against rebel factions in the province, previous negotiations by Moscow and Ankara over Idlib have failed to stop fighting in the long term.

Syrian forces and Russian warplanes have heavily bombarded the region since December, killing nearly 500 civilians, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, and forced nearly a million to flee, according to the United Nations.

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to stay connected