UN urged to help evacuate Syrians in besieged Daraa town
Daraa's residents and activists in southern Syria called on the United Nations on Friday to help save the lives of more than 50,000 people under threat of being displaced from the town by Bashar al-Assad's regime.
The plea came after the Russian side – battling alongside Assad since 2015 – allegedly accepted the option of displacing the besieged neighbourhood of Daraa al-Balad, as the implementation of the latest truce provisions had reached a dead end.
Official spokespeople in Daraa sent a message to international sides, including the UN, to call on Russia to preserve the 2018 agreement as a guarantor of the truce and prevent any attacks on civilians, which had been trapped in the town for over 70 days by regime forces.
A spokesman for the negotiating Daraa Central Committee said that residents took the decision to leave the town to prevent "being murdered", according to a report by The New Arab's Arabic-language service Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
Due to "limited options before us… we had no choice but to accept either living in a military barracks or to fight a war in which our homes would be destroyed and our children killed, therefore we chose to abandon our homes to preserve the lives of our people," Adnan Al-Masalma told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
He added that thousands of residents were preparing to evacuate on Saturday and will head either south to Jordan or north to Turkey, as the regime had not respected the truce reached weeks ago to end its besiegement of Daraa city's souther neighbourhood of Daraa Al-Balad.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights strongly denounced what the Syrian regime was doing in the area, calling on the international community to take immediate action to prevent both regime and Iranian forces from forcibly displacing Daraa's residents.
"SNHR condemns the brutal and barbarous practices of the Syrian regime that force Syrian citizens to flee for fear of arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance and the risk of death due to torture, or forced conscription, in addition to absolutely silencing their voices and forcing them to acceptance tyrannical authoritarian rule," it said in a statement.
"There will be no return for the displaced or refugees as long as the regime and its security bodies continue their repressive practices which threaten to increase the outflow of displaced people and refugees, and to empty the Syrian state of its people."
At least half a million Syrians are believed to have died and millions other displaced since the outbreak of the war in 2011.
Daraa al-Balad was blockaded by regime forces on June 25 after residents resisted an order to surrender their weapons and allow regime forces to search houses in the area.
Daraa, known as the birthplace of the Syrian revolution, is home to some 50,000 people and was an opposition stronghold until 2018.
Syria has been ravaged by civil war since early 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protesters.