Around 50,000 people have fled south Syria’s Daraa as the regime’s bombardment of the city continues, local sources told the Turkey’sAnadolu Agencyon Saturday.
A member of the so-called “reconciliation committees” in the city, who wished to remain anonymous, said the number accounted to about 80% of Daraa’s entire population.
The sources explained that displaced civilians have no other choice but to pass through one checkpoint manned by the regime forces called Al-Saraya, while families who wish to cross in their cars are forced to pay a bribe of up to two million Syrian pounds, or about $625.
Clans in the region had issued a statement on Thursday denouncing the increasing military build-up in Hawran – the geographical region which spans southern Syria and northern Jordan.
It slammed “the unjust siege that is being applied to the people of Daraa al-Balad and the rest of the besieged areas to narrow their livelihoods”.
The statement also rejected “the constant threats of death, destruction, intrusion and mass displacement”, and considered it was inappropriate for any country to deal with its citizens that way.
Despite the violence, Russian-mediated talks between Daraa’s “reconciliation committees” and a delegation representing the regime have continued, according to the sources which spoke to Anadolu.
Fighting between brutal Assad regime forces and armed opposition groups in the southern province last month killed at least 28 people.
The clashes have died down over the past week but were the most intense since the government seized back control of the region from rebels in 2018.
Russian-backed Syrian troops and allied forces recaptured Daraa province from rebels in 2018, in a symbolic blow to the anti-government uprising born in its provincial capital in 2011.
Thousands of fighters evacuated under a Moscow-brokered deal, but many former rebels also stayed on in the province, some joining the regime forces.
State institutions have returned to the province but the army has still not deployed in some areas including Daraa al-Balad.