The regions of southern Syria are witnessing rapid developments, and Syrian activists say that they may increase the security and military tension in the coming days, especially in Daraa Governorate, where in the past days the people refused to participate in the presidential elections organized by the Assad regime on May 26.
Daraa has been under “fragile” security and military control by Assad’s forces, since late 2018, and is considered one of the most prominent areas of “settlement”. It is a description related to the agreements imposed by Russia in the past years, which stipulated the departure of the opposition fighters to the north of Syria, with the settlement of the security and criminal status of wanted persons.
The hope of the “settlement” agreement, when it was signed in southern Syria, was to impose a state of stability in the governorate, large parts of which were outside the control of the Assad regime, to be followed by settling the conditions of wanted people, restoring services and repairing infrastructure.
However, all of the above was not implemented on the ground, against the background of several reasons, the most prominent of which is the Syrian regime’s failure to comply with any of the demands, especially the release of detainees and the cessation of raids and intrusions.
Corps salaries cut
In a rare and exciting development, media sources from the city of Bosra al-Sham in the eastern countryside of Daraa said that Russia has suspended the salaries of former opposition leader Ahmed al-Awda’s fighters, due to the latter’s refusal to install military points in the Syrian Badia region to fight ISIS.
The number of “Al-Awda” fighters is approximately 2,000, and they operate under the name of the “Eighth Brigade” of the “Fifth Corps”, a military formation that was established years ago with the support and patronage of Moscow.
The sources added, in statements to Al-Hurra website, that the leader Al-Awda had sent batches of his fighters to the Syrian Badia, during the months of April and May, but he decided to withdraw them, because they were exposed to ISIS ambushes, and they collided with the geography and topography of the region.
And the sources, who preferred not to be named, continued: “After the withdrawal of the forces, Moscow requested the return of the 8th Brigade commander to install military posts, but he refused the request, and as a result, the salaries of his fighters were cut about a month ago.”
For more than two years, each component of the Eighth Brigade has received $200 from Moscow, in addition to monthly vacations of up to a week.
This is the first time that Russia intends to involve these fighters in the battles of the Syrian desert, after it had previously concentrated their military action within the borders of Daraa Governorate.
Al-Awda previously led the “Sunni Youth” group in the “Free Syrian Army”. But after the “settlement” agreement in 2018, he turned into a “pampered leader” in Moscow, in a move that raised speculation and question marks.
The personality of this leader is surrounded by a lot of strangeness. Despite his direct dependence and loyalty to Russia, he has worked in the past few days to organize demonstrations against the Assad regime, and also rejects the presidential elections that Assad won in a “previously settled” vote, according to opponents.
“The regime is taking revenge on Daraa al-Balad”
Parallel to the aforementioned event, Assad’s forces have since Tuesday imposed a security cordon around the neighborhoods of Daraa al-Balad, in a move that journalists and activists from the province linked to the demonstrations that hundreds of people took to the streets on the same day that the Assad regime organized the presidential elections.
A media activist from Daraa al-Balad said in statements to Al-Hurra website that Assad’s forces raised earthen berms in the vicinity of neighborhoods, and completely closed their entrances from the side of “Daraa al-Mahatta” neighborhoods.
The media activist added: “The regime’s security forces prevent civilians from crossing from the neighborhoods of Daraa al-Balad and restrict the exit of only some of them from the Sjna security checkpoint. We see it as a process of revenge for the people’s refusal to vote in the presidential elections.”
On the 26th of last May, the walls of Daraa’s towns and villages were filled with anti-Assad phrases such as “Daraa, the country will not die. The revolution will not die,” “there is no future for the Syrians with the killer,” and “there is no legitimacy for Assad and his elections.”
In contrast to the rest of the Syrian provinces that participated in the presidential elections, Daraa did not witness any significant participation, except for some areas in it, which are considered to have pure security control by the Assad regime.
This followed a statement issued by the “Central Committees in Daraa” on May 23, calling for a boycott of the presidential elections, and stating that “Houran considers the election day a sadness and mourning, and participating in it is a disgrace and disgrace.”
In contrast to the security cordon imposed on the neighborhoods of Daraa al-Balad, there were other exciting events, as assassinations and bombings escalated in an unprecedented manner, resulting in the killing of civilians and soldiers.
On Wednesday morning, Syrian media close to the Syrian regime reported that an explosive device exploded in the North Al-Khat neighborhood, which is one of the neighborhoods of Daraa City, in an incident preceded by the explosion of 3 explosive devices in separate neighborhoods of the city.
Human rights sources from southern Syria have previously told Al-Hurra that Daraa governorate witnesses, on average, 30 to 60 assassinations every month. If the arithmetic average is taken and compared to the previous months of the “settlement” agreement, the number of dead from all categories may exceed a thousand people.
The assassinations varied between direct shooting and targeting with explosive devices and mines, in addition to assassinations that came after kidnappings for several days.