Mon 18 Mar 2019

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Daraa Demonstrations, a Race against the Settlement Deal’s Terms

Demonstration demands release of detainees and accuses Assad’s Forces conscripts of treason, Daraa – December 21, 2018 (Horan Free League)

Demonstration demands release of detainees and accuses Assad’s Forces conscripts of treason, Daraa – December 21, 2018 (Horan Free League)

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Five months into the settlement deal, which put an end to the opposition’s control over Daraa, Southern Syria, the demonstrations are back in the city center, calling for the implementation of the deal’s terms and the Syrian regime’s promises.

On Friday, December 22, the yard of the al-Omari Mosque, Daraa al-Balad, witnessed a demonstration, where the people demanded the release of detainees held in the Syrian regime’s detention centers and shouted slogans against the area’s people who joined the ranks of Assad’s forces.

The demonstrators also raised the revolution’s flag, in addition to signs showing their demands, while the Syrian regime did not comment to the time this report was written.

According to a video, posted onto “Facebook,” the slogans of today’s demonstration were the following: “We no more want settlements; bring out, bring out the women detainees,” “You traitors, you conscripts, were the past years meaningless to you” and “You have joined the scoundrels.”

This demonstration is the second of its kind since the Assad’s forces and their Russian ally controlled the area last July, in return for the legalization of status, settlement deal, of thousands of he area’s people and the departure of the opposition figures, refusing the deal, to Idlib governorate.

How Did the People Manage to Demonstrate?

One of the key triggers that urged Daraa’s people to demonstrate once again is the Syrian regime and Russians’ refrain from the implementation of the deal, signed with the opposition factions, which provided for the release of the detainees, the non-persecution of the people, whose status has been legalized, and lifting the security restrictions imposed on the civilians. However, these promises, terms, were not executed, in addition to the increasing arrest campaigns against the area’s people.

The demonstration’s being held at the al-Omari Mosque’s yard has various indications, for it is the place from where the first revolutions of 2011 were launched.

About the people’s ability at conducting demonstrations, a source, informed of the deal’s terms, told Enab Baladi that the people protested to send the regime and Russia a message, utilizing the deal’s term which prohibits the regime from entering the neighborhoods of Daraa al-Balad till January, the next months.

He added that this condition was added by the Russians during the sealing of the deal, in addition to the reassurances they gave to people that the regime will implement all the terms, on top of which is the release of the detainees, under the auspice of Russia.

Nonetheless, the governorate witnessed several arrests following Assad’s forces control, which is a violation of the deal’s terms.

The arrests are on the rise in the governorate, for a report issued by the Detainees and Abductees Department of the “Daraa Martyrs Documentation Office” mentioned that 72 detainees were arrested by the security apparatuses last November, six of whom were released, while the remaining 66 are yet imprisoned.

“The Russians promised that local police will be deployed in six months, and the implementation of the terms will be at the advantage of the people, otherwise a political solution will be reached. However, the assigned duration is about to end and none of this happened yet,” the source explained.

These demonstrations do not show the signs that they will continue or expand, and this is due to the security restrictions enforced by the regime inside the governorate on the one hand and the tight control over its borders and major joints on the other, which is the principal reason as the source indicated.

The Deal

Assad’s forces and Russia managed to control the two governorates of Daraa and Quneitra last July, under a settlement deal, following days of shelling and military reinforcements.

After this, the Syrian regime imposed on the people, wishing to legalize their status in Daraa governorate, a deed of commitment of 11 terms, with a document to fill with information about the opposition factions and their sources of funding.

Last September, a meeting between the tribes’ key figures, civil entities and a Russian delegation took place in the governorate, in which the demands of the settlement with the Syrian regime were discussed, with a specific focus on the detainees’ issue.

In the meeting, the affair of the people dismissed from their jobs was also discussed, amidst promises to facilitate their return to their positions, in addition to the issue of checkpoints, downsizing their number and refrain from imposing limitations on the people.

Daraa’s renowned figures refused any form of detention during the meeting with the Russian side, being the guarantor of the settlement deal and the implementation of its terms in the interest of the people.

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