The Syrian government intensified its air campaign on rebel-held Daraa on Thursday, sending thousands more civilians fleeing towards the closed Israeli and Jordanian borders, The Telegraph reports. The regime restarted its aerial and ground attack of Daraa, in the south of the country, after talks between the opposition and the government’s Russian allies broke down on Wednesday evening.
There had been a four-day pause as the two sides negotiated, but after talks collapsed a barrage of hundreds of missiles and crude barrel bombs rained down.
Ibrahim Jabawi, a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army group, said the Russians had insisted that the rebels hand over their weapons “immediately” but that they would only do so once the displaced begin returning to their homes and Iran-backed militias withdrew from the area. Hours into the bombing, Mr Jabawi was forced back to the negotiating table. A photograph from the scene of one attack showed a whole family killed in one air strike, their bodies piled on top of each other in the back of a pick-up truck.
More than 320,000 people have fled the area in recent weeks for the frontiers of the Israel-occupied Golan Heights and Jordan, according to the United Nations, which has warned of a humanitarian crisis. Both countries have refused to open their borders to refugees, although Amman has sent aid across to camps on the other side.
The resumption of fighting in southern Syria is now putting the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians at immediate risk as the largest ever wave of displacement in the Syrian war unfolds, the Norwegian Refugee Council warned today.
“This is a catastrophe in the making, but it can be stopped at any moment, and it has to be stopped,” NRC Secretary Genaral Jan Egeland said. “A ceasefire is urgently needed so that people in need can get assistance, and we call on all the governments with influence to exercise all their power to stop this bloodshed. We also urge the Jordanian government, with increased international support, to open the border to the Syrians who are now cornered and fearing for their lives. This is the only way they can be truly protected from the approaching attacks. It is now more urgent than ever to give them safe refuge and for the international community to help Jordan robustly to deal with this crisis.”
Over the last 24 hours, attacks have hit displaced families, killing and injuring children and women who were fleeing for their lives. More than 330,000 people are now displaced — the largest ever displacement in the Syrian war.
Over 350,000 people have fled Syria’s southwestern city of Daraa to border areas near Jordan and Israel due to attacks by Syrian regime forces and their allies, civil defence sources said today as quoted by Middle East Monitor. On 12 June, the Syrian regime, supported by Iranian militia groups and Russian air power, launched a major operation aimed at capturing opposition-held areas of southern Syria.
Civil defence sources in Daraa told the Anadolu Agency that the number of people fleeing the region has surpassed 350,000. Mostly women and children, civilians are looking for shelter near the Jordanian border. According to the UK-based Syrian Network for Human Rights, at least 214 civilians – including women and children – were killed in regime attacks in Daraa in the period from 15-30 June.
The onslaught has reportedly forced tens of thousands of civilians to flee to areas near Syria’s border with Jordan. The UN once again called on Jordan to open its border yesterday and provide temporary shelter to tens of thousands of Syrian people fleeing airstrikes in southwestern Syria.