Syrian regime, pro-Iran militias bomb Daraa hours after ceasefire announced

Syrian regime, pro-Iran militias bomb Daraa hours after ceasefire announced
3 min read
15 August, 2021
Syrian regime troops and their pro-Iranian militia allies have bombed the besieged city of Daraa hours after a Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement was reached.
Thousands of Syrian civilians have fled the fighting in Daraa [Getty]

Syrian regime forces and allied pro-Iranian militias resumed their bombardment of the rebel-held city of Daraa in southern Syria on Saturday despite a ceasefire agreement reached on the same day.

Abu Baraa al-Hourani, a local media activist, told The New Arab’s Arabic-language service that the regime's elite Fourth Division, which is commanded by President Bashar al-Assad's brother Maher, bombed the Tareeq al-Sad area of Daraa with mortars on Saturday evening.

Hours before, Adnan al-Musalama, the official spokesman of a negotiating committee representing residents of Daraa had announced on Facebook that a two-week ceasefire agreement had been reached between the regime and rebels, following mediation by the regime’s ally Russia.

Al-Jazeera Arabic reported that the agreement would involve Russian patrols around the rebel-held Daraa al-Balad area of Daraa city and a "regularization of the status" of rebels wanted by the regime, in preparation for a longer term ceasefire.

Rebels who reject living under regime rule in Daraa would be forcibly evicted to Idlib province under the agreement.

There has been no agreement yet on the lifting on the ongoing regime siege of Daraa al-Balad, which has left residents of the area without flour, water, fuel, and other essential goods.

However, al-Musalama told The New Arab’s Arabic-language service that Iranian-backed militias allied with the regime had not accepted the Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement and decided to continue bombing Daraa al-Balad.

"It seems that the Iranian militias didn't like the agreement and ceasefire, which was announced today in Daraa and want to violate it," he said.

"They launched several mortars into areas of Daraa al-Balad, while those defending it and their civilian families are adhering to the agreement and no violation on their part has been recorded."

Al-Musalama added that the Iranian militias "would work hard to ruin this agreement", which he said would "end the Iranian project in the area".

Iranian-backed militias have a heavy presence in Daraa province, which borders Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Syrian opposition activists have accused Iran of attempting to change the demographic character of the province.

Daraa province was previously a stronghold of the Syrian opposition, having seen some of the first demonstrations against the Assad regime when the Syrian uprising broke out in 2011.

It was captured by the Syrian regime in 2018 but remained restive, with regular protests, attacks on regime troops, and assassinations of opposition activists.

The current round of fighting in Daraa al-Balad began in June when residents of the city refused to participate in presidential elections, which were widely dismissed as a sham and gave Bashar al-Assad 95% of the vote.