DARAA, Syria

After the Bashar al-Assad regime forces launched a ground operation in a neighborhood in the city center of Daraa, southwestern Syria, clashes spread to the countryside and 15 civilians lost their lives in the attacks by the regime forces.

According to local sources, the regime forces carried out the operation to strengthen their dominance in the Daraa al-Balad neighborhood, but failed.

Encountering residents and armed opposition groups, the regime forces had to withdraw after intense clashes.

After the regime forces attacked the neighborhood with tanks and artillery shells, the clashes spread to the western and eastern countryside of Daraa.

Opposition groups targeted some checkpoints and military positions belonging to the regime forces, and captured 12 regime checkpoints.

The regime forces then targeted the settlements with mortar and artillery attacks.

Lying in the Dara province, which is known as the birthplace of the Syrian revolution, Daraa al-Balad was blockaded by the regime forces on June 25 after residents, including former members of the Syrian opposition, resisted an order to surrender their light weapons and allow regime forces to search houses in the area.

According to the Daraa-based Reconciliation Center and local figures, the order was opposed because it violated the terms of a 2018 deal, under which the area residents and ex-opposition members had to surrender all heavy weapons.

The deal allowed thousands of rebels and civilians safe passage to other opposition-held regions, while Russia-backed regime forces launched an attack to reclaim Daraa.

The regime began its military action despite agreeing earlier this week to lift the blockade.

*Writing by Seda Sevencan in Ankara

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