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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Syrian rebels surrender Bosra al-Sham in Deraa offensive

News Analysis |

Rebel forces holding the strategic town of Bosra al-Sham in Syria’s southern Deraa province have surrendered to loyalist troops of President Bashar al-Assad according to an official source.

UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has also confirmed the deal brokered between rebels of the southwestern town and the Syrian Armed Forces. State and media sources have announced talks being mediated by neighboring Jordan to convince the rebel opposition to hand over heavy weaponry to the government.

The recent Deraa offensive was launched around 2 weeks ago on the 19the of June with the intent of extending Syrian government control over the southern provinces of Deraa, Quneitra and sections of Sweida. Backed by Russian air support, President Bashar al-Assad’s troops enjoyed a string of victories and are presently in control of more than two thirds of the province.

Three fighting zones are however still operational namely; Idlib province where Turkey is intervening, Kurdish controlled North which is allied with the US and the rebel-held southwest.

Rebel forces however are still camped out in parts of the province with their central hold being the provincial capital. Deraa City is also the location of the start of the Syrian uprising of 2011, and interestingly enough, rebel control extends to most border areas adjacent to Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and Jordan.

Government troops are closing in swiftly on the strategic border routes where once lucrative trade was conducted with Jordan before it closed the border back in 2015.

Read more: Syrian rebels seize ‘doomsday’ village where Islamic State promised final battle

Since then, the embattled Syrian government has pushed back from its western stronghold towards the South where they are meeting what could be final pockets of resistance. Renewed fighting along the border has displaced more Syrians who are fleeing the fighting and entering into Jordan.

Jordanian authorities have denied most refugees entry claiming that they had housed the maximum quota and do not have the resources to accommodate more. Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said on Thursday, that Jordan has been alone in shouldering the responsibility of Syrian refugees and has surpassed its maximum capacity.

Rebel forces holding the strategic town of Bosra al-Sham in Syria’s southern Deraa province have surrendered to loyalist troops of President Bashar al-Assad according to an official source.

 

Jordan is not only keen to open the border crossings to resume trade with Damascus but is also at fragile point for being overburdened with refugees. Aid agencies are willing to pool in help for refugees if the border opens.

Deraa was meant to be a de-escalation zone according to the agreement brokered between US, Russia and Jordan in 2017. According to the deal, the fighting was to be contained in the southwest of Syria.

Read more: Syrian army controls capital after ousting IS

Assad earlier declared he was still keen on a political solution for the birthplace of the rebellion but promised military force in case the effort failed. US state department issued a promise to exact “firm and appropriate measures in response” if the Syrian government opted to “broaden the conflict”.

However, Washington has not yet issued a response to recent developments but in last week the rebels clarified that they were told not to count on the US for military support. Lead rebel negotiator Nasr al-Hariri, levelled the finger of blame on the US accusing it of complicity in Assad’s southwest offensive.

Jordan is not only keen to open the border crossings to resume trade with Damascus but is also at fragile point for being overburdened with refugees. Aid agencies are willing to pool in help for refugees if the  border opens.

Assad’s chief ally Russia has been disinterested in yielding to the rebel’s demands and is imposing its own ultimatums and not ceasing air attacks during negotiations. Currently, Syria’s war is not with ISIS which had somewhat united the various factions especially the Iranian and Hezbollah side.

Read more: Syrian imbroglio

Three fighting zones are however still operational namely; Idlib province where Turkey is intervening, Kurdish controlled North which is allied with the US and the rebel-held southwest. The latter poses the easiest target and according to Assad’s promise of retaking all of Syria, is understandably his first choice.

This could very well mean the end for the Free Syrian Army which will either put up a last stand or come to terms such as those in Bosra al-Shaam have demonstrated. Such an end would be accepted by regional players such as Jordan, Iran and Syria, but the same could not be said of Israel, Turkey and the US.