Assad regime forces have been blockading a crowded neighborhood in an opposition-held district in northern Syria for eight days, a report said Friday.
The regime has been keeping the Daraa Balad neighborhood under blockade to prevent the transportation of humanitarian aid supplies for over a week, Anadolu Agency (AA) reported.
On June 25, the regime forces asked the residents and former opposition forces to lay down all light weapons and allow them to search their homes. However, the Daraa Central Committee, the main reconciliation center in the area, noted that they were only supposed to hand in heavy weapons as part of the Russian-brokered agreement signed in July 2018. The regime then started imposing a blockade on some 40,000 civilians living in the area.
All entrances and exits from the district have been blocked, and the transportation of all medical and food assistance, as well as fuel, has been prohibited.
Daraa-based activists also told AA that another reason for the regime to impose the blockade was because the region’s people had opposed setting up ballot boxes for the regime’s so-called elections.
Hundreds of civilians gathered outside to protest the blockade after Friday prayers.
Daraa was one of the main bastions of opposition that came under intense attacks by the regime.
Back in 2011, when the Arab Spring spread to Syria, a group of students in Daraa began the Syrian opposition movement by writing “Ejak el door ya Doctor,” meaning “Your turn, doctor,” on a school wall. After this initial move, Daraa fell under the control of opposition forces.
However, in 2018, when Daraa was under heavy attack and blockaded by regime forces, Russia became a mediator between the opposition and the regime. As a result of the Russian mediation, those who wanted to stay in the region agreed to lay down their arms, while the groups that refused to reconcile were forced to migrate to the northern parts of the country.
The same year, Assad regime forces, backed by allied Russian forces, started a massive ground and air offensive to retake Daraa from the opposition. The onslaught forced more than 320,000 people to flee and camp in open spaces or makeshift shelters near the border with Jordan or the Golan Heights.
Currently, opposition groups who chose to stay continue their fight with light arms in regions that regime forces have infiltrated. Although Assad regime forces claim that Daraa is completely under their control, in reality, there are constant attacks by unknown forces. During these attacks, many regime figures, including high-ranking military officials, have been killed.