Daraa offensive (June 2017)

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Daraa offensive (June 2017)
Part of the Daraa Governorate campaign of the Syrian Civil War
Date7–23 June 2017
(2 weeks and 2 days)
Location
Result

Indecisive

Belligerents

Syrian Arab Republic

 Iran[1]
 Russia[2]
Allied militias:
Hezbollah[3][4]
Lebanese Ba'ath Party[5]
Liwa Fatemiyoun[6]

Bunyan al-Marsous operations room[7]

Commanders and leaders
Hussein Ali Rabiha [5]
(Lebanese Ba'ath Party commander)
Ibrahim Abdullah[2]
(senior rebel commander)
Abu Shaimaa[9]
(al-Banyan al-Marsous operations room spokesman & commander)
Units involved

Syrian Army

Syrian Air Force
National Defence Forces
Iran Iranian Armed Forces

Russian Armed Forces

Syrian opposition Free Syrian Army[18]

Ahrar al-Sham
Casualties and losses
27–40+ killed[20][21][22] 19+ killed[23]

The Daraa offensive (June 2017) was a military operation launched by the Syrian Arab Army and allies against rebel positions in the southern half of Daraa city. Rebels and government forces fought for control of the city's Palestinian refugee camp, a built-up residential area of the city.[21]

Background[edit]

In mid-February 2017, the Syrian rebels launched a major offensive against government forces in Daraa city. Rebels initially captured a large part of the al-Manshiyah District, but the offensive soon stalled.[24] By mid-March, the Syrian Army claimed to have regained almost all of the positions it had lost,[25] with less than 25% of Manishiyah remaining under rebel control.[26] However, a renewed rebel attack in early April left the rebels in control of 80% of Manshiyah.[27] Fighting continued, with multiple airstrikes on Daraa by pro-government forces in mid-May.[28] By the end of May, rebel control had extended to a reported 95%.[29]

On 3 June, the rebels launched a new attack in Manshiyah, but were repelled.[30] In retaliation for the attack, the Army heavily shelled rebel-held parts of the city the following day.[31] The shelling was part of preparations for an upcoming offensive against the rebels in Daraa, and the government deployed forces including Hezbollah and Shiite Iraqi militias as well as the army’s elite 4th Armored Division.[32][4] What followed has been described as "two weeks of some of the most intense aerial bombardments and clashes the city has seen since 2015."[4]

The offensive[edit]

The offensive began on 7 June, with more than 20 airstrikes, as well as surface-to-surface missiles, hitting the rebel strongholds of Daraa al-Balad and al-Sad Road. Final preparations were also concluded for a ground attack with the arrival of the Syrian Army's Fourth Division.[33]

Between 10 and 11 June, five FSA commanders were reported killed in Daraa. According to pro-government sources, some of these were as a result of a direct rocket strike on a rebel headquarters[34][35][36] amid an intensified bombing campaign by the Army.[37] On 11 June, government forces reportedly made their first territorial advance by capturing most of the School Complex area in the Daraa Camp suburb,[38] a former Palestinian refugee camp.[39]

On 12 June, vicious fighting took place in the Palestinian camp,[21] with reports stating the Syrian Army had captured between 30% and 50% of the neighborhood. Rebel forces responded with mortar shelling of government-held neighborhoods of the city.[40][41] On the same day, a government missile hit the civil defense center in the city, rendering the building and one ambulance inoperable, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights.[4] Opposition activists launched the "Act for Daraa" social media campaign that day.[4]

It was reported by Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that in the first week of the offensive, government forces had dropped more than 300 barrel bombs and fired 350 surface-to-surface missiles on the rebel-held part of the city.[42] On 14 June, citizen journalists reported 10-12 civilians killed in Syrian-Russian airstrikes and artillery attacks that hit a school housing IDPs, in Tafas, on the northern edge of Daraa, a strike later verified by Human Rights Watch.[4][43]

The Syrian Army announced a 48-hour truce at noon on 17 June.[44] In the two-week period up til then, government forces were alleged by Syria Civil Defence to have carried out 645 barrel-bomb attacks, 199 airstrikes, 645 mortar attacks and 91 napalm rocket attacks, causing the death of at least 88 civilians, including 18 children and seven women.[4]

After the truce expired on 20 June, air strikes and artillery fire against rebel-held areas of Daraa city resumed. The Army renewed its efforts to break rebel lines in the east of the city and in the old quarter – with aerial support from Russian forces, according to rebel sources.[45] Clashes also took place near a former air defence base southwest of the city and near the border with Jordan, which was briefly captured by government forces, potentially splitting rebel territory in the Daraa Governorate in two, but were repelled.[45][46]

On 23 June, an attempt at a reconciliation deal fell apart, thus the Syrian Army resumed their offensive in the Palestinian Camp district, accompanied by airstrikes.[47] Rebels affiliated to the al-Bunyan al-Marsous Operations Room claimed to have stormed the SAA 4th Division headquarters, with multiple casualties.[48]

In early July, the government announced a ceasefire in the region.[49] This was formalised on 7 July.[50] However, there was government shelling in the town of Saida in eastern Daraa overnight on 9 July, according to the Syrian Observatory on Human Rights, as well as rebels/government exchange of fire in the village of Al Naeema, shelling of the Al-Balad area in Daraa province, and brief clashes in Daraa city.[51][52] A barrel bomb was reported by opposition media activists the following day.[53]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Iranian leader close to Soleimani killed in Daraa battles". El-Dorar Al-Shamia. 16 February 2017. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Russian jets pound Syrian city of Deraa after rebel gains". Reuters. 14 February 2017.
  3. ^ "Daraa: rebels kill 7 regime troops, Hezbollah executes army officer". Zaman al-Wasl. 14 April 2017. Retrieved 15 April 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Housen Akoush, Nawar Oliver Analysis: The Battlefield in Syria’s Southernmost City, Daraa, News Deeply, 23 June 2017
  5. ^ a b "Militias of Lebanese Baath party Along with the Assad forces in the battles of Daraa". Al-Dorar Al-Shamia. 15 June 2017. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  6. ^ "A Commander of the Iranian Basij forces killed in Syria". Al-Dorar Al-Shamia. 19 June 2017. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  7. ^ Joscelyn, Thomas (24 February 2017). "Treasury, UN sanction 2 senior leaders in al Qaeda's Syrian branch". Long War Journal. Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
  8. ^ Lister, Charles (14 February 2017). "Charles Lister". Twitter.
  9. ^ a b c "Regime escalates punishing campaign on Daraa city after rebels bet on risky offensive to keep Jordan border point". Syria:direct. 14 February 2017.
  10. ^ THOMAS JOSCELYN (13 February 2017). "Jihadists and other rebels assault Syrian regime positions in southern city". Long War Journal.
  11. ^ "Jihadist rebels send reinforcements to stop the Syrian Army's offensive in Daraa". Al-Masdar. 13 June 2017. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  12. ^ "Al-Bonyan al-Mrsous illustrates the reason for the battle, "Death vs Humiliating"". El-Dorar Al-Shamia. 17 February 2017. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  13. ^ "Syrian Army captures half of the Dara'a Camp: map". Al-Masdar News. 13 June 2017. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  14. ^ Leith Fadel (27 May 2017). "BREAKING: Elite Syrian Army division to lead major offensive in Daraa". Al-Masdar News.
  15. ^ Leith Fadel (12 February 2017). "More than 20 jihadist rebels killed in failed Daraa offensive". Al-Masdar News.
  16. ^ Charkatli, Izat (25 February 2017). "Exclusive: Syrian Army prepares to capture the entirety of Dara'a". Al-Masdar. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  17. ^ Al-Khalidi, Suleiman (15 February 2017). "Russia strikes Syria after 'Death Over Humiliation' rebel battle". Amman: Al Arabiya. Reuters.
  18. ^ a b "Коуди Роша on Twitter".
  19. ^ كتيبة الهندسة و الصواريخ (28 July 2015). "كتيبة الهندسة و الصواريخ – دك محطة المحروقات بجانب فرع المخابرات الجوية بصاروخي عاصفة" – via YouTube.
  20. ^ Source, The Inside (11 June 2017). "SAA lost a tank and at least 4 fighters in sporadic clashes across Daraa in the last 16 hours. Many more injured". Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  21. ^ a b c "Syrian troops wage 'life or death' battle with rebels in Daraa, approach Iraq border". Japan Times. 13 June 2017. Retrieved 14 June 2017 – via Japan Times Online.
  22. ^ The Inside Source
  23. ^ Source, The Inside (11 June 2017). "#syria // #Daraa // Over 40 airstrikes in the last 27 hours. 19 rebels dead as a result. Low scale clashes occurring across N Manshiyah". Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  24. ^ Fadel, Leith (15 February 2017). "Syrian Army turns the tables on the jihadist rebels in Daraa, several points recaptured: video".
  25. ^ Tomson, Chris (6 March 2017). "Modest gains as the Syrian Army continues Daraa counter-offensive". Al-Masdar News.
  26. ^ Adra, Zen (12 March 2017). "Field Report: Suicide bomber attacks government forces in Syria's Daraa". Al-Masdar.
  27. ^ Tomson, Chris (20 April 2017). "Islamist rebels on the verge of capturing embattled neighborhood in Daraa city". Al-Masdar.
  28. ^ Pro-Assad Bombing and Ground Attacks in Daraa Violate “De-Escalation Zones”, EA Wordlview, 22 May
  29. ^ website), Alsouria Net (opposition. "Assad Forces Teetering on Defeat in Last Manshiyah Strongholds". The Syrian Observer.
  30. ^ "Scores of jihadist rebels killed in disastrous Daraa offensive". Al-Masdar. 4 June 2017. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  31. ^ "Syrian troops pound Daraa after rebel attack". McClatchy. Archived from the original on 4 June 2017. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  32. ^ "Zero hour approaches as Syrian Army, Hezbollah begin important Daraa offensive". Al-Masdar. 4 June 2017. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  33. ^ "VIDEO: Syrian Army pounds jihadi rebels in Daraa as major offensive begins". Al-Masdar. 7 June 2017. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  34. ^ "VIDEO: Syrian Army's rocket attack kills three rebel commanders in Daraa". Al-Masdar. 10 June 2017.
  35. ^ "Two Free Syrian Army commanders killed in Daraa". Al-Masdar. 11 June 2017.
  36. ^ Source, The Inside (10 June 2017). "#Syria // #Daraa // Rebel Op room was hit by SAA elephant missile 2 hours ago. Multiple dead including commanders". Twitter. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  37. ^ "Syrian army and allies step up bombing of rebels in Deraa city". Reuters. 12 June 2017. Retrieved 14 June 2017 – via Reuters.
  38. ^ "Syrian Army scores first advance in Daraa city as warplanes hammer Islamist rebels". Al-Masdar. 12 June 2017. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  39. ^ "As thousands flee airstrikes on Daraa city, one resident explains why he is staying: 'We'd rather die with dignity'". Syria Direct. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  40. ^ "Daraa Field Report: Rebels shell civilians as Syrian Army advances [+ Videos]". AMN – Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 12 June 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  41. ^ "SYRIAN ARMY IN CONTROL OF 30% OF AL-NAZHEEN CAMP AFTER ADVANCE IN DARAA (VIDEOS)". South Front. 14 June 2017. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  42. ^ Arab, The New. "Syrian regime drop napalm-filled barrel bomb on residential areas of Daraa". Al-Araby. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  43. ^ Syria: Airstrike on School Kills Civilians, Human Rights Watch, 12 July 2017
  44. ^ Syrian army declares city ceasefire as Russia, U.N. plan July peace talks, Reuters, 17 June 2017
  45. ^ a b "Air strikes pound southwest Syrian city of Deraa". Reuters. 20 June 2017.
  46. ^ "Assad forces nearly reach Jordan border in midnight stealth operation". Syria Direct. 20 June 2017.
  47. ^ "VIDEO: Syrian warplanes return with a vengeance over Daraa after reconciliation deal falls apart". AMN – Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. 23 June 2017. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  48. ^ Group of Assad's 4th Division terrorists killed near Daraa, Orient News 23 June 2018
  49. ^ Doubts expressed over Syria regime's ceasefire plan as Astana peace talks restart for fifth time, Al-Araby, 4 July 2017
  50. ^ US, Russia 'agree Syria ceasefire' amid Trump-Putin G20 meeting, Al-Araby, 7 July 2017
  51. ^ Southern Syria ceasefire holds despite sporadic violations, Al-Araby, 10 July 2017
  52. ^ Ceasefire in Syria broken after a day, The Times, 11 July 2017
  53. ^ Syria regime breaks ceasefire with attacks on Free Syrian Army in Suweida and Daraa, Al-Araby, 11 July 2017