Tension prevailed in the countryside of west Daraa Thursday after the “Fourth Division” of the Syrian regime’s army, led by Maher Assad, warned to attack the region.
The Fourth Division had threatened to launch a wide-scale ground and air operation in western Daraa if opposition factions failed to expel six former fighters and commanders from the area to north Syria, hand over their heavy and medium weapons and allow the Division to set up checkpoints around Tafas.
Opposition activists said that for the second consecutive day, the central committees in Daraa, in addition to representatives of the Russian-backed 5th Corps and tribal leaders negotiated with officers from the Fourth Division and the pro-regime security committee in Daraa, in the presence of a Russian general, to prevent a military escalation.
Elders and the central committees have rejected to expel the fighters to northern Syria, except for one commander called Abu Tareq Al-Subayhi.
So far, there have been no reports on the outcome of the talks, although the deadline granted by the Russians and the 4th Division to attack the area passed Thursday.
On Wednesday, regime fighter jets flew over the western countryside of Daraa for the first time since President Bashar Assad’s forces took back control of the province in 2018.
In the nearby Sweida province, local sources said Thursday that pro-regime security apparatuses released Siraj Rajeh al-Sahnawi, a resident from the village of Al-Genina in rural Sweida.
The arrest had triggered discontent in several areas of the province, amid calls for the dismissal of the head of the military intelligence branch in the southern region, after he insulted spiritual leader of the Druze community, Sheikh Hikmat al-Hijri.
On Wednesday, hundreds of residents from the province and the southern region visited the sheikh in a show of support.
On Thursday, the spiritual leadership of the Druze sect issued a statement on behalf of Hijri, calling for calm.
It said the Sheikh received several phone calls from Syrian officials to apologize for what happened and to demand the release of Sahnawi.