WASHINGTON D.C., – On June 24, 2021 a siege was imposed on the southern Syrian neighborhood of Daraa al-Balad in Daraa, blocking its 40,000 residents’ mobility, access to food, medical care, water, electricity, and the internet. The siege’s aim is to force the people of Daraa al-Balad to comply with a series of Regime and Russian requests including the handover of individuals, light weapons, storming of civilian homes, and setting up regime security checkpoints in the area. These actions are in violation of the negotiated framework of the 2018 Russian-brokered “National Reconciliation Agreement,” which the Regime has continuously violated. The Regime and Russia have threatened to bring in Iranian and Hezbollah militias, if the residents of Daraa al-Balad do not comply with their requests.
On July 18, head of the Military Security Service Brigadier General Loay al-Ali, threatened to completely demolish the Omari Mosque if the residents failed to comply. Furthermore, on Thursday, July 22, a series of attacks resulted in civilian casualties: (1) Forces affiliated with the Fourth Division and Military Security indiscriminately targeted the homes of civilians in the neighborhoods of Daraa al-Balad with missiles. (2) One civilian was killed and another wounded as a result of a shooting attack carried out by unknown persons, in Daraa’s northern countryside. (3) Assad’s forces targeted with heavy machine guns houses inside the besieged areas of Daraa al-Balad. Furthermore, on Saturday and Sunday of the same week, Assad forces sent heavy military reinforcements to the city of Daraa, to which the Daraa Police Commander Brigadier General Dirar Dandel said, “There is no talk about opening the neighborhoods of Daraa al-Balad now, and whoever does not want a settlement must leave.” He added that the military columns that were brought to Daraa are to carry out the tasks of the security and military command in the governorate, and to oversee implementation of the Assad regime’s demands of the people of Daraa.
SETF strongly condemns the aforementioned acts by the Assad Regime and its allies, compounding their long list of gross war crimes and human rights violations over the past decade while the international community turns a blind eye. SETF calls for immediate action by the United States and the international community to alleviate the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Daraa. The United States and United Nations must take action to help resolve the crisis in Daraa al-Balad while ensuring the safety and dignity of its people.
Director of Communications, Syrian Emergency Task Force
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