Established by Fathi Ibrahim Bayoud 2005 - Homs

Despite reconciliation deal in southern Syria, hundreds escape chaotic security conditions

Local | 2019-08-13 16:31:00
Despite reconciliation deal in southern Syria, hundreds escape chaotic security conditions
(Zaman Al Wasl)- Fleeing the Syrian cities and towns continues as the Syrian regime continues to seek revenge against own people.

Syrians for Truth and Justice (STJ), legal association, stated that different parts of southern Syria have witnessed a new wave of migration, which locals considered to be perhaps the largest since 2014, with activists estimating the number of the displaced after the signing of the “reconciliation deal” by more than 40 thousand, since the beginning of 2019.

"Every day, at least 10-20 people leave Daraa and Quneitra because of the deteriorating security and living conditions. People wishing to be smuggled out are subjected to all kinds of extortion. Often, large sums of money, sometimes reaching over US $ 3,000, are demanded. A number of them were handed over to security services, through officers affiliated with them and involved in these smuggling networks,” the organization asserts.

According to numerous testimonies obtained by STJ, there are about twenty smugglers belonging to large and organized smuggling networks in southern Syria. There are officers of different ranks in the Assad army who manage most of these operations, transferring young men with their military vehicles, during military and security missions, easily moving from Daraa to Idlib.

Migration operations in the south of Syria seem organized; Assad's forces are most likely behind them, with the aim of emptying the south of the population. So, they resort to facilitating migration/displacement, while at the same time arresting those with security regulations, either for financial blackmail, or to hand them over to security services as a form of retaliation.

The organization revealed that, "Many young men in southern Syria have been detained and blackmailed during their search for a better life. Many young people were arrested, their fate still unknown. Assad forces arrested 12 young men from the city of Al-Hara, in early November 2018, in an ambush... On June 19, 2018, they arrested seven young men on their way from Daraa to areas controlled by anti-regime groups in northern Syria… their fate is still unknown.”

The organization explained that the so-called "settlement agreement" in southern Syria was not a fair agreement for reconciliation as many considered it a "surrender agreement", with Russian guarantees. The settlement agreement stipulated that the list of names of wanted persons would be eliminated, guarantees of no retalliations by the regime and its security branches, the return of state institutions, students and staff to their universities and jobs.

It also stated that, “The slack state and the spread of corruption led the people of southern Syria, especially the middle classes, to be the most pessimistic in regards of a better future for them and their country. This led many young people to choose migration/displacement instead of any other option. The tense security situation, the deteriorating economic and living conditions, the high unemployment rates, the extraction of young people for compulsory service, and the expiration of the settlement deadline, all contributed to their emigration from the country through dangerous smuggling routes.”

Adding that, “The general state of security in southern Syria, especially during June and July 2019, was characterized by a return to the assassination of activists and former opposition, whether military or civilian, as well as attempts of assassinations against mayors, and the assassination of people known for their absolute loyalty to the regime, like informants and some sheikhs and clerics. There is a high prevalence of arrests, carried out primarily by members of the Air Force Intelligence and the Military Security Branch, on charges such as dealing with Israel, ISIS, or Jabhat al-Nusra/HTS, as well as working in opposition organizations such as workers of the White Helmets rescuing agency, and others, as well as arrest under pretet of personal right claims.

According to STJ, the number of people detained by the regime's military checkpoints in the first half of 2019 was estimated at 96 arrests in Daraa governorate, bringing the number of detainees from July 2018 to July 2019 to around 692 detainees from the area, the majority of whom are holders of settlement cards, including figures who previously worked in local councils of opposition and in relief. These measures were reinforced by laying several military checkpoints belonging to the Syrian government forces, at the entrances to cities and villages in southern Syria, where it is estimated that more than 118 military checkpoints have been deployed in Daraa, and more than 17 in Quneitra province.

At least 112 assassination attempts were recorded in 2018, killing 51 people and wounding 38 others, including former local council workers and nine leaders of the armed opposition, who signed the settlement agreement, in addition to 25 assassinations attempted by unknown persons in June 2019, killing 13 people and injuring 9 others.

Syria's war has killed more than 560,000 people and displaced millions since it started in Daraa in 2011 with a brutal crackdown on anti-regime protests. 

Zaman Al Wasl
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