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Military Movements that Might Ignite Southern Syria

Two fighters from the Daraa al-Balad Operations Room – March 2017 (Al-Bunyan Al-Marsoos)

Two fighters from the Daraa al-Balad Operations Room – March 2017 (Al-Bunyan Al-Marsoos)

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Southern Syria is expected to witness military developments in the few coming days, in the light of the preparations undertaken by the opposition factions and the reinforcements in the US “al-Tanf” military base, at the Syrian, Jordanian and Iraqi shared borders. The media addressed these expectations, which form a prelude to initiating battles that might entice fire in the area.

Military sources from Daraa told Enab Baladi, on Saturday, March 10, about the factions’ indulgence in a process of preparation for a military operation, pointing out that this came, “after everyone in the area became totally convinced that there is a need for a move to change the power balance and rearrange the area’s cards,” especially with the Assad’s forces’ progress in Ghouta, and their anticipated mobilization towards Daraa, as a further step.

The Battles of the Highway

About 50% of Daraa lies under the opposition’s control, which earned total control over almost all the neighborhood of Al-Manshiyya, to, thus, shift the battles to the outskirts of the nearby Sajna neighborhood, during the months that preceded the “de-escalation” agreement, in July 2017.

The anticipated action will concentrate on different parts of the Daraa-Damascus Highway, according to military sources informed of the futuristic arrangements; however, there are no official details about the plans’ progress.

The factions are seeking to besiege the Assad’s forces in the city of Daraa, as an attempt to move forward towards the regime controlled town of Khirbet Ghazaleh, and then connecting it with Da’el and the western countryside of the governorate, amidst the regime’s preparations, which started since Saturday, March 10, with fortifying its border points with the opposition inside the city, specifically in the following neighborhoods:  Shamal al-khat, al-Qusour, al-Mattar, al-Kashef, al-Sabil and al-Sahari.

The axes of the military operations expand along the Daraa-Damascus Highway, starting from the area of Lajat in the direction of “al-Wardat” at the outskirts of the town of Mahajjah, at the side opposing the Highway, in addition to  al-Baqa’a, at the outskirts of the town of Izra and the adjacent town of “al-Najyeh,” at the outskirts of the Lajat.

As for the military operations at the Mahajjah axis, the sources said that issue depends on the launch of the Khirbet Ghazaleh battle, expected to take place in the near future, which will guarantee to block the Highway at two different positions, according to the field military reality.

US Reinforcements in “al-Tanf” Base

Early in February 2018, the Israeli research website “DEBKAfile”, has quoted US investigative reports which said that spy aircraft discovered the Russian forces’ participation in the regime and the Iranian forces’ preparations to conduct an attack, they described as “grand,” on Daraa.

According to Enab Baladi’s translation of a report by “Anadolu” Agency, published in Turkish, on Friday, March 9, US mobilized more forces into the military base, established in 2016, to support the “Free Army” factions in the area.

The Turkish version of the report quoted details from sources, which it described as “reliable,” saying that the US army has sent 200 soldiers to the military base, in the context of military operations that it is planning to start in Southern Syria, against the Iranian militias, with the potential of expanding the operations to the Badia area (Desert), according to the Agency.

Military sources from Daraa told Enab Baladi that the factions are planning to start a military operation in eastern Qalamun, ruling out a US movement in Southern Syria.

The sources pointed out that “the spread of Forces of Martyr Ahmad al-Abdo and the Lions of the East Army in Badia and Qalamun, enhances the opportunity for a cooperation between the two of them,” accordingly; if there were to be a movement on US’ part, it should take place in Qalamun not Daraa, according to the sources perspective.

The proposed scenarios in the area are yet not clear, in the shadow of the conflicting parties’ reticence, despite of the regime’s and the Russians’ efforts, in the past period, that sought to conduct “reconciliation” agreements, suggested during meetings, addressed by Daraa Governorate council, in last February, in a restricted manner, without any official talks.

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