Regime-controlled areas in July 2022 | 145 people killed in acts of violence amid rampant security chaos…Al-Qaterji wins fuel battle…people of Jabal Al-Arab curb Iranian expansion in Al-Suwaidaa • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights
The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Regime-controlled areas in July 2022 | 145 people killed in acts of violence amid rampant security chaos…Al-Qaterji wins fuel battle…people of Jabal Al-Arab curb Iranian expansion in Al-Suwaidaa

SOHR renews its appeal to the international community to intensify its efforts to end the Syrian people’s suffering

Regime-controlled areas experienced scores of dramatic developments in July 2022, including an alarming escalation of violence, worsening living conditions, tightening security grip and ongoing arbitrary arrests.

 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has monitored and tracked all key developments in regime-controlled areas in the past month, which can be summarised in the following main points:

 

 

Acts of violence leave many casualties

 

In July 2022, regime-controlled areas saw an alarming escalation of acts of violence that left many casualties, where SOHR documented the death of 142 people across areas controlled by the Syrian regime and affiliated militias; the deaths are as follows:

 

Civilian fatalities

 

52 civilians, including 11 children and six women. Here are further details of the circumstances of these deaths:

 

  • 18 civilians, including a woman, were killed in incidents of security disorder in Daraa province.

 

  • 15 civilians, including nine children, were killed by explosions of old landmines.

 

  • Nine civilians, including a child and three women, were murdered

 

  • Four civilians, including a child, were killed by regime forces in Deir Ezzor, Homs and Daraa.

 

  • Two men died under torture in regime prisons.

 

  • A young man and a woman were killed by bombardment by opposition factions on Hama countryside.

 

  • A woman was killed in a family fight in Daraa countryside.

 

  • A civilian was killed in an explosion in Hama countryside.

 

 

Non-civilian fatalities

 

-48 military personnel and collaborators with regime security services: they are as follows:

 

  • 24 were killed in incidents of security disorder in Daraa province.

 

  • Seven were killed by ISIS.

 

  • Nine were shot dead by unknown gunmen in Rif Dimashq, Al-Quneitra and Al-Suwaidaa.

 

  • Five were killed in explosions in Hama countryside.

 

  • Two officers were killed in failed parachuting in Aleppo countryside.

 

  • One was shot dead by opposition factions in Aleppo countryside.

 

-23 gunmen: 16 members of Raji Falhout faction which is affiliated to the military security service, and seven local gunmen from Al-Suwaidaa, who killed while attacking Raji Falhout faction’s headquarters in Salim and Atil towns.

 

-Ten Iranian-backed militiamen; they are as follows:

 

  • Three people of non-Syrian nationalities and two “collaborators” with the Lebanese Hezbollah were killed by Israeli attacks in a position hosting a workshop for manufacturing Iranian drones nearby Sayeda Zeinab area

 

  • Three Syrian members were killed by Israeli attacks in military positions hosting air defence batteries in the perimeter of Al-Mazzah airbase.

 

  • Two Iranian-backed members: an IRGC-backed member and another of the Iraqi Nujaba movement, were killed by ISIS fighters in Homs desert.

 

-Five ISIS members were killed in Russian airstrikes on the Syrian desert.

 

-Two former fighters of opposition factions were killed in incidents of security disorder in Daraa province.

 

-Two men: one was killed in clashes with regime forces in Daraa countryside and another in a family fight in Deir Ezzor.

 

 

Kidnappings and arbitrary arrests

 

As regime security and intelligence services continue their repression, SOHR activists documented, in July, the arrest of eight people, including three children, as well as only one kidnapping case. Here are further details of the arrests by regime forces and security services in July:

 

  • July 7: A civilian from Al-Suwaidaa was arrested arbitrarily by members of a patrol of the regime Ai-force Intelligence service near Baghdad bridge in the capital Damascus, and he was taken to a security centre in Harasta in Rif Dimashq.

 

  • July 8: Regime security services arrested three children in Daraa Al-Mahatah for unknown reasons and took them to unknown destination.

 

  • July 13: Regime security services in Homs arrested a person of Bani Khalid tribe for unknown reasons. The arrested man lived in Al-Rukban camp at Syria-Jordan-Iraq border triangle in the Syrian desert, then he left the camp months earlier and struck a “reconciliation” deal with regime’s security services.

 

  • July 15: Members stationed at a checkpoint of the regime Air-force Intelligence service on Homs highway, near Baghdad bridge, arrested a young man from Jasim city in northern Daraa for unknown reasons. The young man returned from Lebanon to Syria a short time earlier.

 

  • July 23: Two young men from Da’el in middle Daraa countryside were arrested by regime security services in the area between Sheikh Maskin city and Abtaa town in Daraa countryside.

 

The only kidnapping case in regime-controlled areas in the past month was documented in mid-July when a civilian was kidnapped by unknown gunmen in Alma town in the eastern countryside of Daraa.

 

 

Dramatic developments in Daraa, the “Cradle of the Syrian Revolution”

 

A patrol of regime forces stormed Al-Yadoudah town in the western countryside of Daraa on July 22 and surrounded a house where a former commander of opposition faction lived in. Violent clashes erupted between regime forces on one hand, and the commander, who had refused to leave to north Syria regime, his escort and other opposition members from the town on the other. The clashes left the commander’s escort dead and members on both sides injured. Moreover, the indiscriminate gunfire injured several civilians, including a woman.

 

While on July 24, members of regime security committee in Daraa province met with several dignitaries in the villages and towns of Tafas, Al-Yadoudah and Jasim in Daraa Al-Balad city. The security committee called upon the dignitaries and attendants to cooperate with regime security services to hand over the suspects wanted over security and criminal cases. The Chairman of the Security Committee threatened to launch a military operation if Daraa’s dignitaries refused to cooperate with the committee. The meeting was attended by the Governor of Daraa, the head of Military Security Branch in the Southern Region, Brigadier General Loai Al-Ali, and the Commander of the 5th division.

 

Three days later, regime forces blocked Daraa-Tafas road, along with the arrival of military reinforcement in areas around Tafas city in the western countryside of Daraa. Regime forces coordinated with dignitaries from Tafas and the sides agreed on allowing regime forces to inspect the homes of suspects, with the participation of local groups.

 

SOHR activists later documented the death of a civilian and injury of three others, as shells fired from areas where Military Security forces are deployed in Daraa countryside on the plains of Tafs city in west Daraa countryside. On the other hand, SOHR activists monitored clashes between local gunmen and regime forces in the southern part of Tafs city. Moreover, the agricultural plains between Tafs and Al-Yadoudah witnessed exchange of fire with light and medium weapons.

 

A day later, July 28, regime forces targeted with heavy machine-guns an area between Tafas city and Al-Yadoudah town in west Daraa countryside, amid exchange of fire between regime forces and local militiamen on the outskirts of Tafas.

 

After that, the negotiating committee and regime officers reached a initial agreement stipulating an immediate ceasefire in Tafas city, withdrawal of military reinforcement from the vicinity of the city and expelling some security suspects from the city.

 

On July 31, members of a committee representing residents in Tafas met with Russian representatives and regime forces in the governor’s building in Daraa, to discuss the latest developments in the province.

 

The committee demanded the withdrawal of regime forces and military reinforcement which had arrived in the region, to allow farmers and residents to go to their lands and harvest their crops.

 

The head of the Military Security Branch of the regime “Loai Al-Ali” expressed his adherence to establishing a military checkpoint on the road linking Daraa and Tafas under the pretext that the area is a supply line for ISIS, while the members of Tafas Committee rejected his suggestion, amid promises by the Russians to move the checkpoint away from Tafas city. However, the attendants did not reach a final agreement.

 

 

Russia’s attempts to woo and impress residents

 

Also, in July, Russia continued its attempts to woo and impress residents in regime-controlled areas, relying on sponsoring reconciliation deals and distributing food assistance. In this context, Russian forces distributed food baskets to residents of the regime-controlled village of Al-Hosayniyah in the northern countryside of Deir Ezzor on July 12. According to reliable SOHR sources, 300 food baskets containing cooking oil, flour, rice and tea were distributed to the village’s residents.

 

While on July 18, Russian reconciliation centre distributed 300 food baskets containing flour, rice, oil and tea to residents of Marat village, north of Deir Ezzor.

 

On July 24, Russian forces opened a reconciliation office, led by a person from Al-Sokhna city in east Homs countryside. The new office aims at encouraging civilians from Palmyra city and countryside and Al-Sokhna, who live in areas outside of the regime control, to return.

 

The new reconciliation office provides cards sealed by Russian authorities, preventing authorities from assaulting or arresting the holders of these cards. The office was established after complaints from people who wish to return to their houses safely at a time when they were asked huge sums of money in return for securing their return.

 

 

Violations and infightings in Deir Ezzor and Al-Qaterji wins “fuel battle”

 

Violent clashes erupted on July 20 between Al-Qaterji militia and groups affiliated to Hamsho Company in Al-Zabari and Boqros villages in the easte of Deir Ezzor in regime-held areas, after Hamsho Company paid money to smugglers and raised prices of the smuggled fuel.

 

On the other hand, Al-Qaterji militia’ checkpoint at Mohasan city, east of Deir Ezzor, prevented the passing of trucks or members of Hamsho Company, due to the disputes between both sides which compete to impose domination over the fuel market in the city.

 

While on July 23, SOHR sources reported that the militia of the pro-regime tycoon “Al-Qaterji” who is close to the ruling class imposed full control of the main crossings used for smuggling oil from areas held by SDF, namely, the crossings of Sa’lo town, Maa’bar, Al-Zabari, Baqros and Dhiban in east Deir Ezzor countryside. The militia also prevented everyone working with a company “Hamsho,” which is backed by the 4th Division, from working at those crossings that witness daily smuggling operation of oil and fuel from SDF-controlled areas.

 

According to SOHR activists, river crossings between SDF-held areas and regime-controlled areas in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor witnessed tension between Al-Qaterji militia and workers of Hamsho company with the aim of taking control these crossings. It is worth noting that Al-Qaterji militia is responsible for transporting oil from SDF-held areas to areas controlled by regime forces.

 

Separately, regime security branches confiscated large quantities of wheat stored by farmers and grain traders in eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor in late July. According to reliable sources, security branch patrols seized more than 80 tons of wheat owned by more than ten farmers in the area, due to their refusal to sell their crops to regime’s Euphrates centre. The security branches and consumer protection committees also imposed fines of nearly 500 million SYP on violators.

 

On July 3, an armed group led by “Abu Arab,” a commander of National Defence Forces (NDF), severely beat police officers in the police station in Al-Thawrah neighbourhood in Deir Ezzor city, which ignited clash between police officers and NDF fighters in Al-Jurah neighbourhood in Deir Ezzor, before the law enforcement forces interfered and broke up the clashes. According to Observatory sources, the disputed followed seizure of unregistered motorcycles belonging to relatives of NDF members during a campaign by police officers to confiscate motorcycles which were not registered in government departments.

 

 

Elimination of gang working for Iranian-backed militias in Al-Suwaidaa

 

The province of Al-Suwaidaa experienced violent events and dramatic developments which led to the elimination of a prominent gang affiliated to the regime military security in the province, which worked publicly for Iranian-backed militias.

 

These events started on July 23 when tens of residents from Shahbaa city in Al-Suwaidaa province gathered on Damascus-Al-Suwaidaa highway, near Salakhed junction, protesting the arbitrary arrest of two young men from Shahbaa city by a group led by a man known as “Raji Falhout.”

 

On the previous day, local groups in Al-Suwaidaa arrested two colonels, a first lieutenant and a police man  in Shahbaa city, as a response to the detaining of the two young men from Shahbaa city by “Raji Falhout” group and to pressure on the group to release the young men. Accordingly, the number of detained people have increased to six.

 

On July 26, tension returned to Al-Suwaidaa province following the arrest of five young men from Shahbaa city by armed groups of “military security” forces. “Military security” groups also set up several checkpoints on Shahbaa-Al-Suwaidaa road, areas near Atil town and on Al-Hajj road at the western entrance to Al-Suwaidaa city, where these groups rigorously inspected civilians passing through checkpoints. Moreover, local factions were put on high alert in Shahbaa city and on Damascus-Al-Suwaidaa highway in light of the latest practices by regime armed groups.

 

Hours later, tension grew further among local factions in Al-Suwaidaa, amid escalation of tension with groups of the military security service and warnings against travelling on streets leading to Salim and Atil villages, where military checkpoints had been deployed.

 

The dramatic developments, which started on July 26, led to the death of 23 gunmen; they were as follows:

 

  • 16 members of “Raji Al-Falhout” faction.

 

  • Seven local gunmen who were killed while they were attacking headquarters of “Raji Falhout” faction in Salim and Atil towns.

 

SOHR sources reported earlier that local groups from Al-Suwaidaa province, led by Sheikh Al-Karama forces, managed to free several people of those held by Raji “Al-Falhout” groups, amid intensive gunfire and a gathering of hundreds of people at Al-Mashnaqah roundabout, who celebrated the elimination of “Al-Falhout” group, after the death and injury of many “Al-Falhout” affiliated members and escape of others. Meanwhile, the fate of the leader of the group remains unknown.

 

 

Ongoing Israeli attacks

 

As Israel continues to violate Syria’s sovereignty, SOHR documented three Israeli attacks that left heavy casualties and caused heavy material damage. Here are further details of these attacks:

 

  • July 2: Several violent explosions were heard in areas in the countryside of Tartous near and at the border with Lebanon due to Israeli airstrikes that hit positions in and around Al-Hamidiyah area south of Tartous near the border. Israeli missiles hit animal husbandry believed to be used militarily and commercially by Lebanese Hezbollah, causing severe material damage. A young man also suffered a broken foot and a woman also suffered bruises because of the shrapnel of Israeli missiles.

 

  • July 7: An Israeli drone targeted a person from Hadar town in northern Al-Quneitra countryside, on Wednesday evening, immediately killing him. According to SOHR sources, the dead man was working in monitoring and reconnaissance for Lebanese Hezbollah, in Hadar town on the occupied Syrian Golan border. The man was targeted by the Israeli drone near his house in Maqlaa’ Hadi area west of Hadar town.

 

  • July 22: Israeli attacks killed three people of non-Syrian nationalities and two “collaborators” with the Lebanese Hezbollah in a position hosting a workshop for manufacturing Iranian drones nearby Sayeda Zeinab area, as well as three Syrian members in military positions hosting air defence batteries in the perimeter of Al-Mazzah airbase. Israeli missiles hit offices of the Air-force Intelligence service, the office of a senior officer and a car on the perimeter of Al-Mazzah airbase. Moreover, missiles hit positions near a security checkpoint on the perimeter of Al-Mazzah airbase, Al-Mazzah highway and an Iranian warehouse in the vicinity of Sayeda Zeinab area, destroying it completely.

 

 

Amid chronic living crises, Al-Assad issues meaningless decrees

 

At a time when regime-controlled areas are in the midst of chronic stifling living crises, including blackout for long hours every day, prohibitively high prices and low salaries, the president of the Syrian regime issued new fruitless decrees. In the last ten days of July, Bashar Al-Assad issued a decree, appointing new governors and transferring others from their posts. According to the decree, Namir Habib Makhlouf, Al-Assad’s cousin, was appointed as the governor of Homs, as he failed to administrate Al-Suwaidaa province when he was its governor. Meanwhile, Bassam Mamdouh Barsik, the former governor of Homs, was appointed as the governor of Al-Suwaidaa instead of Makhlouf.

 

Al-Assad also transferred Mohamed Tariq Kirishati from his post as the governor of Hama province and appointed him as the governor of Damascus province. Furthermore, Loai Sayouh was appointed as the governor of Al-Hasakah instead of Ghassan Khalil. While Safwan Suleiman Abu Sa’dah was transferred from his post as the governor of Tartus and appointed as the governor of Rif Dimashq province instead of Mu’taz Al-Nasr Jamran who was appointed as the governor of Al-Quneitra province. Also, the former governor of Al-Quneitra was appointed as the governor of Tartus province. While Mohamed Zanbo’ah was appointed as the governor of Hama province.

 

 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has been all along warning against the repercussions of the crippling chronic crises and security chaos in regime-controlled areas and elsewhere in Syria, with only the Syrian regime to blame for the disastrous situation Syria is in right now. We, at the Syrian Observatory, call upon all international actors not to abandon their responsibility and obligations towards the people of Syria and urge them to find a lasting solution to the tragedy of millions of Syrians and bring Al-Assad, his affiliates and all those responsible for violations and those who aided and abetted the killing of Syrian people to justice.