Syrian elite military unit on offense towards opposition in Daraa area

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Feb 2, 2021

IDLIB, Syria — On Jan. 25, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) mentioned it had monitored a spike within the dying toll ensuing from the clashes that happened in Daraa a day earlier, thought of the heaviest for the reason that Syrian regime took management of the southern governorate in 2018. 

On Jan. 24, clashes broke out between forces of the Syrian regime’s elite 4th Division — affiliated with Maher al-Assad, the brother of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — and Islamist fighters in western Daraa, ensuing within the dying of 11 members of the 4th Division.

The clashes erupted after the 4th Division launched an assault towards Liwa Fajr al-Islam (Dawn of Islam Brigades) led by Khaldoun al-Zoubi, after the latter refused the 4th Division’s calls for handy over heavy weapons and depart to northern Syria. The 4th Division had set its calls for following the bloody occasions in Tafas on Jan. 13, when violent preventing broke out between the Zoubi clan and the Kiwan clan, ensuing within the deaths of 4 individuals from either side. Another particular person was additionally killed by stray bullets.

The SOHR report added that Liwa Fajr al-Islam members captured three members of the regime forces on Jan. 14, attacked a checkpoint of the 4th Division north of Sahem el-Golan within the Daraa countryside, and seized a checkpoint that the 4th Division had erected on the Nafea-al-Shajara street inside the Yarmouk Basin.

The Central Committee — created in 2018 and made up of former Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters and native tribal elders — within the western countryside of Daraa met on Jan. 24 with officers from the 4th Division, within the presence of the Security Committee (an operation room affiliated with the regime that features leaders from the Syrian military and its models, in addition to intelligence officers) and the Russian Military Police.

During the negotiations with the Central Committee, the regime demanded the deportation of various needed individuals to Idlib and the areas underneath the management of the FSA factions in northern Syria, or else the forces would storm the town of Tafas and arrest the needed males.

An activist from Tafas informed Al-Monitor on situation of anonymity that the regime gave the needed males a grace interval till Jan. 28 to both give up or depart city.

The supply mentioned the needed males specifically embody Mohammed Jadallah al-Zoubi, Abu Tariq al-Subaihi, Abu Omar al-Shaghouri, Iyad al-Ghanim, Iyad Jaara, Mohammed Ibrahim and their households, all of whom the regime accuses of being affiliated with jihadist organizations such because the Islamic State or Hurras al-Din.

In this context, journalist Jawad al-Abdullah from Tafas informed Al-Monitor, “The Central Committee, which is made up of former leaders of the [opposition] factions, notables in the area and some intellectuals from the countryside of Daraa, is negotiating with the regime forces represented by the 4th Division. There are no FSA-affiliated armed factions in the countryside of Daraa since the settlement agreement in 2018; only a few individuals carrying light and medium weapons [were allowed to stay] in virtue of said agreement, under an understanding with the Russian mediators.”

Abdullah added, “Those who clashed with the regime forces were former revolutionaries from several factions that were previously active in Daraa before the 2018 settlement. The regime is threatening to wage a fierce war, and the Russian side hinted at resorting to the Russian air force. This is a major shift in the Russian position, which was the sponsor of the settlement agreement in 2018.”

Deputy head of the Horan Revolutionary Council Ismat al-Absi, who resides in al-Bab in northern Syria, informed Al-Monitor, “The recent developments in Tafas are part of an ongoing series of treachery by the regime as it tries to circumvent prior agreements and wants to secure potentially explosive areas in Horan (in southern Syria) before the upcoming presidential elections. The regime wanted to compensate for its failure in the town of Kanaker (in southern Syria), as it failed to deport or arrest some of the wanted people there. The regime does not adhere to reconciliation agreements and their clause, just as Russia cannot be the executioner and sponsor at the same time. The situation in Horan never calmed down despite the settlement agreement, and jihadist groups are exploiting such crises to find themselves a foothold — and we may witness activities by these groups in the future.”

Absi harassed that negotiations between the Central Committee and the regime haven’t been fruitful as of but. Meanwhile, a session that was because of be held on Jan. 27 was delayed till additional discover.

In a Jan. 26 report, SOHR famous {that a} Russian-sponsored settlement within the space would finish the stress in Tafas, offered that the heavy weapons of fighters and former faction leaders are handed over. According to sources cited by SOHR, nobody could be pressured to go away apart from one outstanding chief — Subaihi, who hails from the city of Atman in western Daraa — and he shall be deported to northern Syria and accompanied by former fighters and leaders who want to go there. 

Meanwhile, some journalists and analysts rejected the SOHR report about reaching a settlement settlement in Tafas. Syrian researcher Bassam Jaara tweeted on Jan. 26, “The Central Committee agrees to reject the regime’s condition to deport the six opposition members and their families to northern Syria.”

For his half, Brig. Gen. Ahmed Rahhal tweeted on Jan. 26, “In response to the SOHR report regarding the agreement between the South and the regime under Russian auspices: No agreement has been reached, and the decision to reject [the demands] was taken unanimously by the town of Tafas, the western countryside of Daraa and Daraa al-Baladm [represented by] the Central Committee, leaderships, and popular figures. [They] agreed on the principle of: We live together or die together, with the total rejection of Iran’s and Hezbollah’s control of the area.”

Reliable unbiased sources from Tafas informed Al-Monitor {that a} cautious calm has prevailed within the city, awaiting the end result of negotiations between the Central Committee representing Tafas and the regime forces. The sources mentioned that warplanes believed to be Russian flew over Tafas in an try to stress the Central Committee to simply accept the regime’s circumstances for calm.

Sources in Tafas informed Al-Monitor that the regime continues to be mobilizing members of the 4th Division round Tafas. But, in response to the sources, the regime has knowledgeable the Central Committee that it’ll not invade the town if Mohammed Qassem al-Sobhi, one of many males needed by the regime, stays in his present location. Also, the regime has demanded that medium weapons used as anti-aircraft be handed over and an settlement on settling the scenario of the opposite needed males is reached. The sources count on the regime forces to enter the town at any second.