Small Wars Journal

Russia-Backed Syrian Forces Intensify Assault on Rebel Stronghold

Russia-Backed Syrian Forces Intensify Assault on Rebel Stronghold by Raja Abdulrahim and Dov Lieber – Wall Street Journal

Syrian forces backed by Russian airstrikes intensified an assault on the city of Daraa on Wednesday, expanding their campaign to retake opposition strongholds in Syria’s southwest as the U.S. backed away from enforcing a cease-fire.

Regime forces have killed dozens of civilians and destroyed several hospitals and rescue centers in the week since it began its offensive, according to rescue workers and a monitoring group. They started shelling the city late Tuesday following days of bombardment in the surrounding areas that has already displaced up to 50,000 people, the United Nations said.

“The rebels are retreating under the brutal Russian bombardment,” said resident and antigovernment activist Mohammad, who didn’t want his full name published for security reasons.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 46 civilians have been killed across the province in more than a week of airstrikes and mortar attacks from the regime and Russia. Fighters on both sides have also been killed in the clashes, the observatory reported.

The city of Daraa is where protests against the Assad regime first erupted in early 2011 before spreading across the country and turning into a bloody civil war…

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