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The New Arab

Rebels prepare for battle in Daraa to ease pressure on Ghouta

Daraa has been subject to a truce since last year (Getty)

Date of publication: 11 March, 2018

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Syrian rebels in Daraa are reportedly preparing for battle against the regime and Iranian militias.

Opposition forces in Daraa, southern Syria, are reportedly preparing for an upcoming battle with Syrian regime forces, in an attempt to ease pressure on the bombarded rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta. 

Khaled al-Faraj, a commander of the Southern Alliance, part of the Free Syrian Army, in south Syria said: "Military preparations are in full swing for a major military operation.  

"The battle will be in two directions: the first towards the ‘Triangle of Death’ [town of Quneitra] and will be lead by the Southern Alliance, and the second towards Khirbet Ghazala and Azar."

He added that the military operations may begin within the next 48 hours, and denied the existence of American or British advisors in the region.

Local news sources reported that the military preparations in the south coincided with the arrival of of about 200 US troops to al-Tanf base near the border with Jordan and Iraq.  The base hosts a joint US operations room with factions of the FSA, and a number of British officers have also reportedly been dispatched to the Syrian-Jordanian border.

The city of Daraa also saw regime troops dispatched to areas held by the government.  Bulldozers worked throughout the night to reinforce the earth walls that separate the areas controlled by the regime from opposition enclaves. 

Military sources have speculated that the planned military operation in the north of Daraa and Quneitra, bordering Israel, would target Iranian militia positions, centred in the northern Daraa countryside.

Last year the United States, Russia and Jordan reached a ceasefire and "de-escalation agreement" meant to halt fighting between Syrian government forces and rebel groups in the southwest. 

The southwestern deal was made separately from other unsuccessful de-escalation agreements. 

The plan followed concerns over Iranian ambitions after Shia militias - loyal to Iran and fighting alongside Syrian government forces - advanced toward Jordan's border with Syria, and to another strategic area in the southeast, close to where the two countries meet Iraq.

The truce, monitored by Jordan and Israel, prompted thousands of Syrian refugees in Jordan to return home. 

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