Syria Military Brief – South Syria – 4 November 2021

The regime concluded its nearly two-month long settlement of status operation in south Syria, with settlements including more than two dozen towns and cities across south Syria. Although more than 12,000 individuals have settled their status, the regime’s ongoing presence in these settled areas remains limited and inconsistent with the regime withdrawing its forces from a number of recently settled areas. With the return of commercial traffic over the Nassib crossing to and from Jordan, the regime has offered increased attention to the south. In a rare visit by regime Prime Minister Hussein Arnous to Daraa, Arnous committed to spending nearly $1 million in local projects across the province—a total that, when distribute across the province, is woefully insignificant given the current infrastructure and services crisis in the south.



Attached Map: Recent Developments in South Syria – 4th November 2021

Military & Political Developments

  • Settlements conclude: The regime officially announced that settlement of status operations in Daraa province had concluded after more than 50 days of processing in more than two dozen cities and towns across south Syria (25.10). Although major operations have now finished, the regime will still process a limited number of settlement requests at centers in Daraa city, Busra a-Sham and elsewhere until early November. So far, several hundred residents and 8th Brigade fighters have participated in these limited settlements.
  • PM visits Daraa: Regime Prime Minister Hussein Arnous traveled to south Syria and conducted a series of visits with local officials in Daraa city (28.10). Arnous committed to earmarking nearly $1 million to infrastructure and service projects across Daraa, as well as promising to complete repairs to the Nassib border crossing. This budget—distributed across the entire province—is tremendously insufficient. If funds were distributed by population size, for example, the entire town of Nassib in eastern Daraa would receive $6,000 for the entirety of its projects. Such regime promises often fall flat, and Daraa remains in a state of disrepair and decay after years of neglect
  • Lajat returns: Regime Military Intelligence allowed five families from the Lajat town of al-Tayf in rural eastern Daraa province to return to their homes, rejecting calls by 30 other families to make the same journey (29.10). Military Intelligence has issued multiple promises to residents and leaders to allow large-scale returns to the Lajat area.

Daraa Command & Control

  • 4th Division tensions: Regime 4th Division commanders threatened local recruits with criminal prosecution should they refuse to depart rural western Daraa and report to training camps near Damascus and in the Syrian Badia (23.10). Many local recruits, particularly those who were told they would remain near their home areas, are reluctant to depart Daraa—the latest example of insubordination and tension between 4th Division command and local fighters.
  • Daraa checkpoints dismantled: The regime dismantled three checkpoints in Daraa al-Balad, withdrawing forces stationed there since the positions were established some six weeks ago (22.10). The regime had initially established nine checkpoints in Daraa al-Balad following the settlement deal that ended the regime’s siege and bombardment of the area, yet their authority is largely uneven and inconsistent.
  • Key figure relieved: Major General Hussam Luqa, one of the most prominent regime figures tasked with overseeing operations in Daraa province, has been relieved of his duties after more than two years of working in south Syria (29.10). Luqa was formerly the director of Daraa’s Security Committee and played prominent roles in developing and carrying out the regime’s political and military strategy across the south.

Iranian-backed Militias

  • Israeli strikes: Israeli warplanes targeted three regime Brigade 90 positions in rural northern Quneitra province, all of whom under the command of Captain Bashar Hussein, a regime officer tasked as liaison with Hezbollah militia forces in the area (25.10). Israeli forces dropped leaflets in the surrounding area following the strikes addressed to “Syrian Army soldiers” that directly condemned Captain Hussein and Brigade 90 for their cooperation with Hezbollah. Hezbollah forces later met with Brigade 90 officers at Taloul Fatima in rural northern Quneitra province, with local Hezbollah recruits blocking the nearby roads during the talks (28.10).

Instability in South Syria

  • Attacks: Regime forces come under repeat attacks in the wake of continued popular anger:
    – Russian forces attacked: Attackers detonated an IED near a Russian military police patrol as it traveled along the Damascus-Daraa highway in Umm Elmiathin in rural eastern Daraa province (25.10). No casualties were recorded in this attack, which is the first of its type against Russian forces in months. In the days following the attack on Russian forces, the regime intensified its security along the highway (26.10).
    – Checkpoint attacked: Gunmen attacked a regime checkpoint in the Daraa Camp neighborhood of Daraa city, with a local man injured by a stray bullet (20.10).

Arrests & Violations

  • Killed in prison: Regime forces released the body of a Daraa resident and former opposition fighter days after he was detained by regime Military Intelligence on charges of stealing cars (24.10). A day later, the regime informed relatives of another former opposition fighter that he had died in prison after more than two years in detention (25.10).
  • Commander released: Former opposition commander Tawfiq al-Haji was released from Lebanese custody after being arrested in Beirut two months ago, returning to his hometown of Jasim (27.10).
  • Arrest at regime building: The regime arrested a local resident at the municipal a-Nafous building in Izraa in rural northern Daraa province (20.10). The regime’s arrest of civilians during routine visits to regime government facilities is a regular practice that
  • Daraa al-Balad arrests: Regime forces a local civilian as he passed through a checkpoint in Izraa in rural eastern Daraa province (30.9).

Humanitarian Developments

  • Coronavirus outbreak: Healthcare professionals in Daraa province recorded approximately 18,000 new infections over the course of October amid a major spike in cases. October’s caseload is the largest in months, with the current outbreak heavily taxing Daraa’s neglected and strained health sector.