On January 24 morning, units of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) 4th Division launched an attack against former rebels in the western Daraa countryside.
The attack reportedly started with heavy shelling on rebel positions in the towns of Muzayrib, al-Yadudah and Tafas. The shelling targeted the personal office of Khaldoun al-Zoubi, a former Free Syrian Army commander and a current leader of ex-rebels in western Daraa.
According to local sources, heavy clashes erupted when SAA troops advanced towards the three towns. The Horan Free League claimed that a battle tank was hit and an infantry unit of the 4th Division was ambushed by former rebels during the clashes. These claims are yet to be verified.
The clashes ended in the afternoon after a meeting between 4th Division officers and the leaders of the 8th Brigade, a unit of the 5th Corps dedicated for former rebels. The meeting was organized by the Russian Military Police.
Western Daraa rebels received sympathy and support from local fighters across the governorate. However, no attacks or provocations were reported in other regions.
Earlier this week, the 4th Division deployed large reinforcements in Daraa. Later, the division began implementing a plan to step-up security measures in western Daraa. Checkpoints were reinforced and new posts were established.
Dozens of attacks targeted Syrian troops and even former rebels in western Daraa and other parts of the governorate over the last year.
The limited attack on January 24 was likely meant to pressure former rebels into accepting the SAA’s new measures in western Daraa, which are meant to improve security. The rebels, however, may opt to escalate the situation in an attempt to maintain their influence.
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