06/22/2018, 10.42
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Syrian army attacks rebel controlled area in the south, thousands flee

Hundreds of families are leaving several centers in the province of Deraa. Local sources speak of 12,500 displaced people, a figure far above the 2,500 declared by the UN. Assad ready to negotiate a "political solution", but does not exclude "the use of force" to regain control of the area.

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Hundreds of families are  fleeing rebel controlled areas in southwest Syria, in anticipation of a massive offensive by government forces. According to data provided by the UN, at least 2500 people have fled from the province of Deraa; however, an activist group in the area speaks of 12,500 displaced persons and the number continues to increase.

Regular army troops and militias loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have reinforced artillery assaults in the region, which borders Jordan and the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel. An area that should be part of the "de-escalation" zones in the conflict mediated by Russia, Turkey and Iran.

Last week, the United States, allied with the anti-Assad rebel militias in the context of the Syrian conflict, threatened to intervene with very harsh responses to attacks. The fear is that the government offensive can trigger a chain response that will cause further violence and civilian casualties.

The war in Syria broke out in March 2011 as a street revolt against the government and turned into a proxy conflict involving the main regional and international powers. To date it has caused over 350 thousand deaths and 11 million displaced persons. And it has triggered the worst humanitarian catastrophe since the Second World War.

Local sources report that displaced people are fleeing south, in an enclave on the border with Jordan controlled by the rebels that has not yet been affected by the bombing. According to the government media, the bombs target extremist groups linked to al Qaeda in the towns of al-Hirak and Busra al-Hariri. In addition, the rockets launched by the "terrorists" in response to the offensive would have caused two civilian casualties.

In a recent interview, President Assad confirmed that the south-western region of Syria is the next target for a series of military interventions that have allowed the government  to regain control of much of the country. He added that the hope is to find a "political solution" but he does not exclude the use of force to free the area "if there are no other options" on the table.

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