Syrian government forces marched into rebel neighborhoods in the city of Dara in southern Syria on Wednesday, official Syrian media and NGOs reported. The city is considered to be the flashpoint of the Syrian war that has been going on for a decade.
The entry of Syrian government troops into rebel-controlled districts is the result of a truce that was negotiated in August with Russia’s participation. Under it, insurgents who lay down their arms and people who have not completed compulsory military service will be allowed to stay in the city, while those who refuse to surrender will be evacuated to rebel-controlled areas in the north of the country.
“They hoisted the national flag, installed their posts and combed the area to declare it terrorist-free,” wrote the Syrian official news agency Sana about government troops.
A city of symbolic importance for the civil war
The city of Dara in the province of the same name has a symbolic meaning for the civil war in Syria and is regarded as one of the flash points of the entire war in Syria. It was there that, in March 2011, the security forces arrested a group of children who wrote an anti-government slogan on the wall of one of the buildings, and a dozen or so people were killed during the break-up of the demonstration.
On April 25, 2011, the city was surrounded by the Syrian army, which began its pacification, known as the siege of Dara. 244 protesters and 81 soldiers were killed in these fights. This event is considered to be one of the causes of the outbreak of the Syrian civil war.
In 2012, the Free Syrian Army (WAS) took control of the southern neighborhoods. The heaviest fights took place in 2017, as a result of which a large part of the city was destroyed. In July 2018, after several days of intense clashes, rebel forces capitulated, and the government in Damascus restored full control of the city.
The civil war in Syria has been going on for a decade
However, since the beginning of this year, rebel groups began to reappear in the city, and clashes with the Syrian army began in several neighborhoods. Regular fights took place in July and August, as a result of which almost 40,000 people were forced to flee. At that time, Russia intervened, with the participation of which a truce was signed in the city, which again gave the Syrian authorities full control over it.
Nearly half a million people died and 11 million people were displaced in the decade-long civil war in Syria. Over 5 million of them fled abroad, mainly to neighboring countries.
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / SANA HANDOUT