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The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Threatening to launch military operation in rural Daraa | Fourth Division and Russians meet with Daraa’s dignitaries

Daraa Governorate- Syrian Observatory for Human Rights:

SOHR sources say that regime forces and the 4th Division demanded a group of dignitaries and elders from Daraa governorate, the extradition or deportation of eight people to the north of Syria within a maximum of 72 hours, and handing over the weapons in the city of Tafas in order to avoid a violent military operation in the area. Regime forces gave a deadline until Thursday, the end of this week.

According to SOHR sources, regime forces demanded the deportation of the eight people, who were former fighters of local factions from the western region of Daraa.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the Russian side and the Russian military police, who threatened to use the air force if the demands were not implemented until the deadline expired.

Syrian Observatory activists have documented a spike in the death toll of yesterday’s clashes in Tafas city in western Daraa, which were the most violent clashes ever in Daraa since regime forces regained control of the province in 2018. According to SOHR sources, the number of fatalities among the regime-backed “4th Division” have risen to 11, all killed in clashes with ex-fighters of “Fajr Al-Islam” faction led by Khaldoun Al-Zu’bi, after the attack by the “4th Division” of the faction’s headquarters had failed.

This attack came after the ex-fighters’ rejection of the demands of the “4th Division” to hand over their heavy weapons and leave to north Syria following the dramatic developments in Tafas city in January 13. On that day, fierce clashes erupted between “Kiwan” and “Al-Za’bi” tribes, during which four people of the two tribes were killed as well as the death of another woman after being hit with an indiscriminate gunshot.

Yesterday, SOHR sources said that former fighters of “Fajr al-Islam” faction, led by Khaldoun al-Zu’bi, captured three regime soldiers and attacked a checkpoint of the “4th Division”, north of Saham al-Golan town, taking the control of a checkpoint on Nafa’a-Al-Shajara road in Yarmouk Basin in Daraa countryside.

A few hours ago, SOHR sources reported tense calm prevailing in Tafas city in the western countryside of Daraa since last night, after violent clashes and bombardment between regime forces and the 4th Division on one hand, and former fighters of the factions “Fajr Al-Islam on the other. These clashes and bombardment have left casualties on both sides, while members of the two sides were captured.

Meanwhile, Observatory sources monitored build-ups of both sides that have been on high alert, particularly regime forces and the 4th Division, amid fears of renewed clashes. On the other hand, reliable SOHR sources confirmed that regime forces have brought in new military reinforcement this morning to the western outskirts of Daraa. It is worth noting that yesterday’s clashes were the most violent in the entire province since regime forces captured Daraa in 2018.

Yesterday, SOHR sources reported ongoing fierce clashes in Tafas city in the western countryside of Daraa between ex-fighters of “Fajr Al-Islam” faction led by Khaldoun Al-Zu’bi on one hand, and the 4th Division and regime soldiers on the other, in the wake of a security campaign and an attack on the headquarters of “Fajr Al-Islam” in the city since early morning.

According to SOHR sources, the ex-fighters managed to repel the 4th Division’s attacks and unleashed a counterattack, amid exchange of rocket fire between both sides. Meanwhile, a state of panic was prevailing among the city’s residents, especially with the use of heavy weapons, as these clashes were the most violent since the Syrian regime regained Daraa.

The ongoing clashes and exchange of bombardment left four members of the 4th Division dead and others injured, while several members of “Fajr Al-Islam” were also killed and injured.

SOHR sources confirmed that Russian forces mediated to ease the situation in the region, as a meeting was held between representatives of the Russian-backed “5th Corps” and representatives of regime forces in Daraa Al-Mahattah in Daraa city, in an attempt to defuse the conflict and put an end to the fight and tension in the area, especially after the failure of negotiations in the previous day.

A few hours earlier, reliable sources informed SOHR that fierce clashes erupted in the early hours of Sunday morning in Tafas city in the western countryside of Daraa, after a military group of the 4th Division had attacked the headquarters of an ex-commander of “Fajr Al-Islam” faction. The clashes coincided with exchange of shelling, amid a state of panic among the city’s residents.

Meanwhile, regime forces were seeking to capture this headquarters and seize the weapons there, including heavy weapons. This development came after the failure of yesterday’s negotiations, as the Syrian regime have conditioned the deportation of former commanders and fighters of opposition factions to Idlib and the handing over of their heavy weapons.

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