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Assad troops launch campaign to cripple rebel forces

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Syrian forces supported by Iran-backed militia groups have ramped up attacks against a rebel-held district of the southern city of Deraa, according to residents. reports citing Daily Express.

In what could be a prelude to a large-scale attempt to wrest full control of the city from rebel groups, the Syrian army has launched an intensive campaign of raids and bombing strikes on the area, strategically located on the border with Jordon.

Bashar al-Assad’s forces have recently intensified barrel bomb strikes on the area, and has fired hundreds of so-called elephant rockets on the city’s old quarter, as well as a nearby former refugee camp.

The Syrian military has not commented on its build-up of troops in the region, or the escalating bombing.

But reinforcements from the army’s allies, including Hezbollah and Shi’ite Muslim Iraqi militias, have rushed to the city from a number of locations near Damascus, the Syrian capital.

Troops travelled to the region using the Damascus-Deraa highway, a major supply route where well-fortified trenches on both sides of the road have made it more difficult for rebels to launch counter-offensives.

Major Issam al Rayes, a spokesman for the so-called Southern Front grouping of the Free Syrian Army, said: “The regime has brought large columns of troops from the elite 4th Armoured Division, and also Hezbollah forces.

“Everything indicates the regime is preparing for a large-scale military campaign in Deraa in which they plan to encircle the city and reach the Jordanian border.”

The troops being sent to the region are considered to be the Syrian army’s elite division, which has the best training and equipment.

Adam al-Karad, commander of the missile brigade in the FSA’s Southern Front, said: “Our surveillance shows troop carriers and heavy armour – if it continues at this same level of reinforcements, this will be very large.”

Assad’s military has ramped up its drive to recapture the Manshiya neighbourhood, a district that almost completely fell into rebel hands after four months of firefights in the streets.

Rebels stormed the strategic area in order to take control of the Syrian army’s strategic crossing with Jordon.

If Syrian forces retook the area, it would sever the rebel link between the eastern and western parts of the province they control, dealing a major blow to their cause in the south.

The Syrian government's strategic goal is to open a direct route from Damascus to the Jordanian border.

2017.06.12 / 10:48
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