Forces loyal to the Russian- and Iranian-backed regime of dictator Bashar al-Assad launched nearly 1,270 airstrikes on rebel-held territory near Israel’s Golan Heights on Sunday alone, marking the latest move in an offensive to clear insurgents out of southern Syria, according to a monitor group.
The latest phase of the operation that began in June came after the Assad troops conquered most of Daraa province along the border with Jordan, including the provincial capital, considered the epicenter of the civil war that has been raging in the country since March 2011.
On Sunday, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which uses a network of ground sources to monitor the civil war, reported that the Assad regime targeted a stretch of territory controlled by the armed opposition in northern Daraa and the countryside of adjacent Quneitra, launching about “1,270” missiles and explosive barrels into the region.
The area between northern Daraa and Quneitra countryside is located about 2.5 miles from the international boundary with the Golan Heights, Voice of America (VOA) reported.
On Sunday, the Observatory also noted that the “first batch of displaced people of Daraa city and its suburbs” are beginning to evacuate the area towards northern Syria.
“Sources confirmed to the Syrian Observatory that this batch consists of 9 buses and 2 ambulances carrying at least 430 civilians and fighters,” the monitor group revealed, adding that in total, “about 20 buses are expected to depart with hundreds of civilians and fighters of Islamic factions with their families.”
VOA pointed out that the armed fighters and their families are heading to rebel-held Idlib province in northern Syria, adding:
Similar deals in other parts of Syria resulted in the evacuation of thousands of opposition fighters and civilians evacuations that the United Nations and rights groups have decried as forced. In Daraa, the deal will hand over areas that have been held by the rebels for years back to government control. Daraa, which lies on a highway linking Damascus with Jordan, is the cradle of the 2011 uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad.
On Thursday, the Assad forces conquered the town of Daraa, the capital of the province of the same name.
CNN reported Friday:
Syrian government forces say they have retaken a town that was the epicenter of the civil war that engulfed the country and the region for more than seven years. State media said the Syrian troops entered the town of Dara’a on Thursday.
Troops raised the Syrian flag once again over the town of Dara’a, where graffiti taunting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad about the demise of Arab dictators in other countries first sparked the uprising that became the Syrian war.
By Sunday, the Syrian regime had set its eyes on pushing the opposition and rebel fighters out of the area between northern Daraa and the Quneitra countryside.