The European Union called for the protection of civilians in Syria’s southwestern Daraa province where Assad regime forces have been carrying out attacks for over a week.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement that the region is witnessing its “worst and deadliest violence” since 2018. All parties were urged to prioritize protecting residents of Daraa and ensure unhindered, safe and sustainable humanitarian access.
The statement reminded the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen’s call for all parties to adhere to international humanitarian law, restore calm and accelerate efforts to reach a peaceful political solution. The European Union was stated to be in solidarity with the call.
Previously, on Wednesday, the United States’ Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the Assad regime’s crackdown on Daraa. Blinken called for an immediate end to the violence that killed, displaced, and deprived thousands of civilians of basic necessities. The diplomat reiterated “calls for a nationwide ceasefire in line with UNSCR 2254.”
The Syrian revolution sparked in Daraa in 2011. The city was controlled by rebels until regime forces and Iranian-backed militias launched a ground operation in 2018. The Russia-brokered reconciliation agreement demanded opposition members to surrender all heavy weapons.
Tension rose last week as pro-Assad forces conducted military parades and raided civilian homes under the pretext of searching for wanted persons, which resulted in artillery shelling and missiles to break down the deal.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s envoy to Syria, Alexander Zorin, met with the opposition leader Ahmed Awda who signed the 2018 deal. Negotiations between the Assad regime and a local committee run by regional elders failed. Sporadic attacks continue.
The Assad regime is stated to insist on the deployment of pro-Iranian forces in the city, while opposition forces fear Iran’s expansion in the area, who are considered to be responsible for the daily bombings and assassinations.
Opposition activists further believe that the regime is hoping for revenge in response to the death of 1,000 Iranian, Russian and Assad regime forces when the agreement was made.