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Syria resumes pounding militants’ positions in Dara’a after Russia-mediated deal fails

Syrian government soldiers stand at the Nasib border crossing with Jordan in Dara’a, Syria. (File photo by Reuters)

The Syrian military has renewed its attacks against the last militant enclave in the southwestern city of Dara’a following the collapse of a Russian-mediated deal to restore government rule in the area and end the presence of militants there.

The Syrian military said on Sunday that it had prepared buses for the evacuation of militants opposed to the deal to a northwestern part of Syria, which is under the control of Turkish-backed Takfiri militants.

"We insist on full army control and no return back to the state of lawlnessness and chaos that prevailed," an unnamed army spokesman told Reuters, accusing the militants of reneging on their pledges.

According to local negotiators, several thousand former militants and their families insisted that they would only leave to Turkey and Jordan, countries seen as safe sanctuaries.

Russia has been mediating a new deal to end the recent fighting in Dara'a, in which militants who reject the deal will have to leave the region.

The negotiations started late on Tuesday to prevent bloody urban warfare, a day after the two sides exchanged tit-for-tat machine gunfire.

However, the deal collapsed on Friday after disagreements over the extent of the Syrian military control over the Dara’a al-Balad’s neighborhoods as well as disarming former militants.

Adnan al Masalameh, spokesman for the Dara’a al-Balad negotiation committee, told Reuters that the new demands presented by the Syrian government and the Russians are “impossible,” adding، “We reached a dead-end.”

On Monday, the Syrian military conducted retaliatory strikes on Dara’a, after the armed terrorists holed up in the area launched deadly attacks against army soldiers and civilians.

The terrorists targeted residential neighborhoods and army checkpoints in Dara’a, killing four soldiers and injuring 15 others. The militants reportedly used rockets, mortar shells, machine guns and snipers in their raids.

On the same day, Syrian army units deployed in the vicinity of the Dara’a al-Balad district responded to the terrorist attacks.

The retaliatory operation included artillery and rocket fire on the positions from where terrorists fired shells, according to SANA.

In 2018, the Syrian army, backed by Russia and Iran, wrested control of Dara’a Province, which borders Jordan and is close to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. 

Under a Russian-mediated deal, thousands of Western-sponsored militants handed over their heavy weapons but maintained grip on Dara’a al-Balad.

Since late July, however, the militants have intensified their attacks targeting residential areas.

In response, the government forces have imposed a siege on Dara’a al-Balad, but opened a corridor for civilians to leave.

Terror outfits are seeking to hinder the government’s efforts aimed at consolidating security and stability in Dara’a and terrorists keep using locals as human shields.

The establishment of full government control over Dara'a is highly important because it borders the occupied Golan Heights which Israel has used to treat wounded terrorists fighting against the Syrian government since 2011.

The territory's return to Syrian government control could cut the much-reported collaboration between Israel and the militants and accordingly deal a blow to Tel Aviv's plans to annex the Golan Heights.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-sponsored militancy since March 2011. Damascus says the Western states and their regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc in the Arab country.

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