Regime-controlled areas in October 2022 | 161 fatalities in acts of violence…dramatic escalation of ISIS activity in Daraa…noticeable escalation of attacks in Rif Dimashq and near border with Syrian Golan
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 October 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 October 2022, regime-controlled areas saw an alarming escalation of acts of violence that left many casualties, where SOHR documented the death of 161 people across areas controlled by the Syrian regime and affiliated militias; the deaths are as follows:
- 50 civilians, including five children and four women. Here are further details of the circumstances of these deaths:
- 20 civilians, including a child, were killed in incidents of security chaos in Daraa
- 17 people, including three women and two children, were murdered.
- Five civilians died under torture in regime’s prisons.
- A girl was killed by shells targeting Kravish village in Salanfa district in Latakia countryside.
- Three people were killed by ISIS members.
- Man shot dead by regime forces in Rif Dimashq.
- A man and a woman were shot dead by unidentified men in the countryside of Al-Quneitra and Deir Ezzor.
- The head of the Talbiseh city council was killed when an IED exploded in Talbiseh, north of Homs.
-73 military personnel and collaborators with regime security services: they are as follows:
- 24 were killed when a 4th Division bus was hit by IED explosion on Al-Saboura road in Rif Dimashq.
- 23 were killed by ISIS in syrian desert.
- 19 were killed in incidents of security disorder in Daraa.
- An officer and a regime soldier close to Hezbollah were shot dead by unknown persons in the countryside of Al-Quneitra and Damascus.
- Two combatants were killed in infighting in Deir Ezzor countryside.
- One was killed in a bomb blast in Kassab town, north of Latakia.
- Two were killed by Israeli airstrikes.
– 16 ISIS members:
- Nine were killed in incidents of security chaos in Daraa.
- Four were killed by Russian aerial bombardment.
- Three were killed in clashes with regime forces in Syrian desert.
– 12 former factional combatants were killed in incidents of security disorder in Daraa.
– Ten Iranian-backed Syrian and non-Syrian militiamen were killed:
- Six militiamen were killed by ISIS members in Syrian desert.
- Four militiamen were killed by Israeli strikes.
Unprecedented escalation in Daraa leaves the highest death toll ever in the province since early 2022
As Daraa has seen a dramatic escalation of incidents of security disorder that are on the rise across Daraa province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has monitored the noticeable deterioration of the security situation since early October. In this context, SOHR activists have documented 55 attacks in different areas throughout Daraa province in the period from October 1 to October 31. These attacks left 60 people dead; they are as follows:
- 20 civilians.
- 19 regime military personnel, “collaborators” with security services and members with settled-status working for regime services and backed militias.
- 12 former fighters who did not join any military formation, after striking reconciliation deals.
- Nine ISIS members.
This is the highest monthly death toll since early 2022 in Daraa province, according to SOHR statistics.
Crime rate is on the rise
Since early October 2022, regime-held areas have seen an alarming escalation of crime rates, in light of the failure of regime security services of the Syrian regime to put an end to the chaos and rampant security chaos that prevail across Syrian provinces which are under the control of regime forces.
These crimes were committed with various motives and reasons, most notably “theft, revenge, or honour” and other reasons.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has documented 14 murders that left 17 civilians dead, and they are as follows:
- Three women.
- Two children.
- 12 men and young men.
The fatalities are distributed regionally as follows:
- Al-Suwaydaa: Two civilians: A child and a man.
- Rif Dimashq: One young man.
- Hama: four civilians: Three men and a woman.
- Deir Ezzor: A woman.
- Damascus: A man.
- Idlib: A man.
- Latakia: Two civilians: A man and a child.
Noticeable escalation of attacks in Rif Dimashq
In October 2022, Rif Dimashq province saw a violent escalation of attacks, leaving dozens of regime soldiers and their proxies and Lebanese Hezbollah militiamen dead and injured. The most notable attack occurred on the 13th of October when 24 members of the 4th Division were killed and 14 others were injured in an IED attack on a bus on Al-Sabourah road in Rif Dimashq.
While, on October 6, the leader of a military intelligence group was hit direct bullet fired by unidentified gunmen at night in Zakia city in western Rif Dimashq. The leader was injured and taken to hospital. The man is responsible for reconciliation deals with regime forces in Zakia city.
Also on October 8, a civilian, believed to be a smuggler, was shot dead by members of the security forces of the Fourth Division of the regime forces, whose checkpoints are deployed on the roads and near the border areas. This came after the man was ambushed in Jarad Al-Jubbah village near Syria-Lebanon border in north-western Rif Dimashq. Fourth Division also seized the civilian’s car.
On October 29, a militiaman-backed Lebanese Hezbollah was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Hafir Al-Fawqa town in Rif Dimashq.
The militias smuggle goods and shipments of narcotics manufactured by the Lebanese Hezbollah from Lebanon into Syria and vice versa.
Al-Quneitra province also experienced similar bloody attacks in the past month, as in early October, unidentified gunmen opened fire on a car carrying a regime lieutenant-colonel, who was close to the Lebanese “Hezbollah,” on Khan Arnabeh-Juba road in Al-Quneitra province near the occupied Syrian Golan, causing the death of the lieutenant colonel.
While on October 17, unidentified gunmen assassinated a civilian in Khan Arnabah town in Al-Quneitra province, near the occupied Syrian Golan. The civilian, who was from Jabata Al-Khashab village, was reportedly accused of “working for a group smuggling drugs from Beit Jin to Daraa.
Kidnappings and arbitrary arrests
As regime security and intelligence services continue their repression, SOHR activists documented, in October, the arrest of at least 17 civilians civilians, including two women, as well as the kidnapping of eight others, including a woman. Here are further details of the arrests and kidnappings documented in the past month:
- October 2: Regime security services arrested three young men in Al-Ghariyah Al-Sharqiyah town in the eastern countryside of Daraa.
- October 4: Regime security services arrested three young men in Al-Msifra town in the eastern countryside of Daraa.
- October 9: Regime forces arrested three drivers working on the commercial road, which is the only outlet for the residents of the 55 kilometre de-confliction zone. According to SOHR activists, the detainees were taken to the Air-force Intelligence branch, where their relatives were asked to pay a ransom of 100,000 USD for their release.
- October 13: Members of the state security intelligence service stationed at security checkpoints in Al-Jidour area in the northern countryside arrested three civilians and took them to security centres for unknown reasons.
- October 15: Members of the military intelligence service arrested three workers at the entrance of Al-Khalidiyah neighbourhood in Homs city centre, while they were attempting to cross into the neighbourhood where they were renovating an apartment.
- October 26: Regime soldiers stationed at the notorious security checkpoint of “Mankat Al-Hatab” on Damascus-Daraa road arrested a civilian arbitrarily.
- October 27: Members of the regime’s security service arrested a civilian for “evading mandatory conscription” in Al-Suwaidaa national hospital in Al-Suwaidaa city where he was receiving medical treatment.
- October 1: A young man working as a salesperson was kidnapped in Um Al-Zaytoun town in Al-Suwaidaa countryside, as six unidentified gunmen blocked his way, shackled him and took him towards Ariqa town in the western countryside of Al-Suwaidaa.
- October 11: Unidentified gunmen kidnapped four civilians from Al-Suwaidaa, including a young man, while the civilians were collecting fire logs in Al-Batm forests near Al-Alaly area, north-west of Al-Suwaidaa. The civilians’ fate remains unknown.
- October 13: A gang, headed by a drug dealer backed by the Lebanese Hezbollah and known by his initials as M. D., kidnapped a woman from Telkalakh city in the western countryside of Homs, on the Syria-Lebanon border. The gang members had lured the woman to Talbiseh city in north Homs countryside, after having persuaded her that they had a priceless collection of antiques. According to SOHR sources, the ringleader released the woman’s escort, after having asked him to inform the woman’s family to prepare a ransom of 100,000 USD in return for her release.
- October 29: Unknown gunmen blocked a car on the road between Salim village and Shahbaa in Al-Suwaidaa countryside and kidnapped the driver.
Drug business trigger new clashes
Observatory sources reported that clashes broke out between Jordanian Arab Army Forces and a group of armed drug smugglers, while smugglers were attempted to smuggle captagon pills into Jordan. The clashes erupted at dawn on Monday, October 10, near Al-Sha’ab village at Syria-Jordan border in east Al-Suwaidaa countryside. The Jordanian army managed to thwart the smuggling attempt. However, the armed group ran away into Syrian territory, leaving behind the narcotic shipment. It is worth noting that most of the smuggling operations of drugs and weapons to Jordan takes place across Al-Sha’ab village, while smuggling groups engaged in drug business in this area work for the Lebanese Hezbollah.
Also, on October 11, SOHR sources reported clashes between the National Defence Forces and members of a joint patrol of regime security services in Al-Jourah neighbourhood in Deir Ezzor city. According to SOHR activists, members of the regime’s security services and police were put on high alert and deployed in neighbourhoods of Deir Ezzor city, along with the closure of major roads and side streets, amid growing tension in the city. This coincided with a security campaign against drug dealers of an NDF group led by “Ahmed Al-Lahej”, who is accused of “involving in drug business.”
It is worth noting that “Ahmed Al-Lahej” had been a member of the “Free Syria Army,” before he struck a reconciliation with regime, under guarantee by “National Defence Forces” commanders.
New “reconciliation centres” in Al-Suwaidaa and Rif Dimashq
On October 6, Syrian regime intelligence service opened a “reconciliation centre” in Al-Suwaidaa province, where civilians can have their security situations settled. According to SOHR activists, the “7th of April” Hall was opened to receive Syrian civilians and military personnel covered by Amnesty Decrees No. 2 and 7 issued by Syrian regime president in 2022, who wanted to settle their security status. The Amnesty Decrees also covered suspects, military deserters and young people who passed their date of joining the mandatory and reserve service to regime’s security branches. However, the decrees did not cover individuals involved in personal suites.
Similarly, on October 24, SOHR activists reported that regime forces began a “comprehensive settlement process” in the municipality square in Douma. According to SOHR activists, the settlement process covered the cities and towns of eastern Ghouta and several affiliated and surrounding districts, such as Adra Al-Balad, Douma, Al-Nashabiyeh, A’rbin, Kafr Batna, Saqba, Ain Tarma and Zamalka. In those areas, fugitives, suspects and military deserters were invited to settle their security status by attending and submitting applications at the administrative unit building in eastern Ghouta.
While in late October, members of the ruling party in Syria, the Arab Socialist Baath Party, called on the residents of Arbin in eastern Ghouta in Rif Dimashq to strike “settlement deals” to immediately remove their names from the lists of arrest warrants in all security branches. Syrian regime intelligence service was preparing to establish a “settlement centre” in the municipal building in Arbin city in order to launch the settlement process, a few days after a similar process was launched in the neighbouring city of Douma. According to SOHR activists, the settlement process would begin in a few days. The reconciliation deals would include regime army defectors, military deserters, young people who passed their date of joining the mandatory and reserve service to regime’s security branches and suspects, except for the people who are accused of criminal cases.
School named after Russian officer and mass grave discovered in eastern Homs
The Syrian regime’s minister of education, Abdul Hakim Hamadeh and Russia’s vice minister of education, Denis Gribov, inaugurated an educational complex and a centre for teaching the Russian language in Palmyra city in east Homs countryside.
According to SOHR activists, the educational complex was named after a Russian officers called “Fitch Provenco,” who was killed during military operations in Syria.
The educational complex was rehabilitated in cooperation between the Russian Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Education of the Syrian regime, in recognition of the Russian sacrifices in Syria and its support to the Syrian army, as regime’s media described.
It is worth noting that the news of the opening of the educational complex under the name of the Russian officer provoked a wave of anger among civilians in regime-held areas and criticism among social media activists, who considered this action as a marginalisation of the names of the dead Syrian regime forces and polishing the Russians because of their support to the regime.
In the same countryside, SOHR activists reported on October 21 that regime forces found a mass grave near the archaeological amphitheatre in Palmyra city.
The recently-discovered grave contained the remains of nine civilians from the city, believed to be executed by ISIS during its control of the city in 2015.
It is worth noting that Iranian-backed militias and the Lebanese Hezbollah have noticeably expanded their presence in Palmyra city, while the presence of Russian forces in the city has been confined to Palmyra airport and phosphate mines and gas fields.
Ongoing Israeli attacks
As Israel continues to violate Syria’s sovereignty, SOHR documented three Israeli attacks that left heavy human and material losses. Here are further details of these attacks:
- October 21: Israeli strikes destroyed military logistics and equipment used to assemble Iranian-made drones in Dimas military airport area in western Rif Dimashq. The strikes also targeted a radar system and airstrip at the airport. However, no casualties were reported.
- October 24: A regime Lieutenant and a members of the regime’s air-defence forces were killed in Israeli airstrikes which targeted military positions hosting militiamen of the Lebanese Hezbollah and Iranian-backed militias in Rif Dimashq. The strikes targeted an air-defence battalion in Khirbet Al-Shayab area of Al-Kiswa in Rif Dimashq and Dimas airport in Rif Dimashq which is directly run by Lebanese Hezbollah.
- October 27: Four “collaborators” with the Lebanese Hezbollah, including at least one Syrian, were killed in Israeli strikes which targeted weapons and ammunitions depots and Iranian-backed militias’ headquarters in the surrounding areas of Damascus international airport. The Israeli strikes reached six, four of which targeted weapons warehouses and positions of Iranian-backed militias and Lebanese Hezbollah in the farms to the west of Damascus airport, while the two others targeted areas to the south-west of the airport. The strikes also destroyed weapons and ammunitions depots and inflicted heavy material losses on Iranian-backed militias.
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.