Syria Military Brief: South Syria – 1 July 2022

Tensions persist in Daraa province as the regime tightens its security measures and deploys its forces aggressively in Daraa city, with recent regime movements raising serious concerns among residents that Damascus may be planning another military incursion there. As the uncertain and tense security conditions continue, residents are grappling with continued economic decay and a dearth of key services such as water and electricity. A years-long drought, combined with the regime’s mismanagement of limited resources, has brought on a major wheat and flour shortage that threatens to interrupt the availability of bread across the region. In response, the regime has issued a series of restrictive laws governing the movement and sale of wheat in order to shore up the regime’s limited reserves.


Attached Map: Recent Developments in South Syria – 1 July 2022


Recent Developments

  • Potential Daraa escalation: The regime is tightening security in and around Daraa city and increasing its manpower around the provincial capital, prompting concerns among residents that the regime may launch a military incursion. To date, the regime has banned the use of cars and motorbikes on streets leading to buildings hosting intelligence forces (13.6) while bolstering its military presence in the city. While a major operation remains unlikely, the regime’s intensified presence has prompted fear and concern among residents.
  • Top Baath Party figure killed: Gunmen shot and killed Kamal Yahya al-Atmeh, one of the most prominent regime officials in Daraa province, in a deadly attack in Sanamayn that saw four of his companions also killed and two others wounded (28.6). Al-Atmeh was the secretary-general of the Baath Party in Daraa and played a key role in recruiting pro-regime militia fighters after 2011. Al-Atmeh’s killing marks one of the most notable and high-profile assassinations in south Syria in recent memory.
  • Major crime spike: Local authorities across Daraa are recording major spikes in criminal activity, with vehicles in particular being stolen in large numbers by thieves (14.6). Among the abducted vehicles was a Military Intelligence 4×4 jeep stolen from one of the branch’s detachments in Izraa (15.6). Poor economic conditions and the proliferation of drugs are of the most prominent causes believed to be responsible for the uptick in crime.
  • Tribal violence: Fighting broke between members of the rival al-Falah and al-Libad families in Sanamayn in northern Daraa, with the clashes leaving three civilians injured (21.6). Conflicts between rival tribes are relatively common in Daraa province, with the regime at points taking sides and empowering certain family groups over others.
  • Bedouin-Druze tensions: Dozens of Bedouins from Suwayda province fled to eastern Daraa after violent clashes erupted between Druze and Bedouin armed groups that left three dead (29.6). Tensions have persisted between the two communities for months, with intermittent tensions leading to clashes at numerous points. One persistent key point of contention is the numerous kidnappings launched by Bedouin groups against Druze civilians in Suwayda, prompting retributive kidnappings and armed operations from Druze militias.
  • Deadly landmine: A transport carrying dozens of Bedouin workers near Deir al-Adas in rural northern Daraa was hit with a landmine, killing some 11 civilians and injuring more than 30 others.

Humanitarian Developments

  • Coronavirus tracking: Healthcare professionals in Daraa province recorded 320 new coronavirus infections over the last month (30.5-26.6), with the province’s caseload maintaining relatively low numbers.
  • Major wheat shortage: Daraa residents are currently facing a worsening wheat crisis that threatens the area’s food security and resilience, with the current wheat crop’s size less than 80% of the harvest during the same period last year. With the harvest season for wheat ongoing, the regime has introduced severe restrictions on the sale and transport of locally grown wheat outside of Daraa and instructed checkpoints to examine vehicles departing the province to seek out anyone violating these restrictions. The regime’s decree states that wheat may only be transported to regime-operated silos, and the storage of wheat in private warehouses is strictly forbidden. To make matters worse for local wheat yields, an ongoing water shortage and drought has made the area vulnerable to fires—more than 500 dunams (approximately 125 acres) of wheat crop burned in numerous fires in eastern and western Daraa in less than 24 hours.
  • Record fuel prices: The price of gasoline in Daraa reached $2.25 per liter, the highest recorded price for fuel thus far in the Syrian conflict (12.6). Prices are expected to continue to rise in the coming weeks amid ongoing economic woes.
  • Standardized tests: End-of-year testing for secondary school graduates is currently underway in Daraa, with students forced to travel to testing centers in Daraa city in order to take college entrance exams. In eastern Daraa, Ahmad al-Awdeh’s 8th Brigade gathered donations from the local community in order to secure bus transportation for students in Busra a-Sham.