On August 24, the crisis in the southern part of the Syrian city of Daraa, known as Daraa al-Balad, escalated to an unprecedented level.
The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) deployed more reinforcements, including heavy weapons, around Daraa al-Balad and stepped up its strikes on the area. These measures were meant to pressure local leaders who are still refusing to fulfill the demands of Syrian authorities.
The authorities want to expel more than 100 wanted gunmen from Daraa al-Balad and deploy units of the SAA in the area to secure it.
In an attempt to de-escalate, a force from the Russian Military Police supported by units from the 8th Brigade, the main formations for former rebels in Daraa, entered Daraa al-Balad.
Initially, the situation appeared to be taking a positive turn. The SAA halted its strikes and buses entered the area to evacuate wanted militants. Nevertheless, most wanted gunmen insisted on staying and local leaders took their side which forced Russian forces to withdraw. The gunmen also shelled the northern part of Daraa city.
Eight gunmen who accepted to leave Daraa al-Balad arrived on August 25 morning in Turkish-occupied areas in the northern governorate of Aleppo.
Now, the SAA is reportedly bracing to launch a full-on military attack on Daraa al-Balad. While Russia is still making efforts to avoid this scenario, the chances of local leaders actually accepting a settlement remain slim.
An attack by the army on Daraa al-Balad may lead to unrest in other parts of the governorate where hundreds of former rebels are still armed.
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