Saturday 17 March 2018

Fighting for Syria's Daraa intensifies

Smoke rises over buildings that were hit by Syrian government forces in Daraa (Nabaa Media, via AP)
Smoke rises over buildings that were hit by Syrian government forces in Daraa (Nabaa Media, via AP)

Syrian government forces and rebels have traded fire across Daraa as opposition activists warned the government was preparing to try and retake the remainder of the southern city.

The activist-run Nabaa Media outlet released footage of thick black smoke rising over the city following a string of blasts. It alleged the government was using napalm-like weapons. The footage was filmed on Sunday.

Daraa is an important link on the highway connecting Damascus to Jordan and was once an important source of customs revenue for the capital. It has been contested between the government and the opposition since the first anti-government demonstrations in 2011.

Nabaa contributor Mohammad Abazeid said the city's opposition-held areas are "nearly empty" and have been heavily damaged by the bombardment.

He said some 20,000 residents have fled the opposition-held quarters of the city since February.

The government's attacks have been concentrated on Daraa's Old City and its Palestinian refugee camp, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

It reported clashes between rebels and pro-government gunmen inside the camp, which is a built-up residential area.

An infant was killed in rebel shelling of the government-held parts of the city, according to the Observatory and Syrian state media.

A "de-escalation agreement" brokered by Iran, Russia and Turkey in May has not brought any relief for the city, activists said.

The agreement covers four zones in Syria where the rebels are fighting pro-government forces.

Syria is in the sixth year of a civil war that has killed more than 400,000 people.


Press Association

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News