At Least 270 Journalists Trapped in Syria’s Daraa

At least 270 journalists, media activists and media workers are facing an imminent danger being trapped in Syria’s southwestern Daraa province amid an ongoing regime offensive in the region, the Syrian Journalists Association said Tuesday. The association said the journalists were seeking a safe exit through the Jordanian border amid fears of reprisal by regime forces.

In the last few days, most media workers were forced to move to a narrow geographical area in Quneitra region. However, some media workers were besieged in “Daraa Al Balad” and adjacent western countryside.

Those besieged media workers ask for help and to be provided a safe transfer by opening the southern border with Jordan; fearing that they would be otherwise killed or arrested, as the records show many violations were committed by the regime in Syria against media professionals.

“What scares most is the will of revenge by the regime and its allied militias against anyone who voices opposition to the Syrian regime,” the statement read.

The Syrian Journalists Association follows the case closely with a special interest, and calls on neighboring countries, especially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, to open the borders for besieged journalists and provide them a safe exit. The Association holds the Syrian regime and allied supporting forces responsible for any violations against any journalist whether willing to stay or safely exit.

The Association also calls on international organizations and associations to implement necessary measures to prevent a catastrophe for journalists and their families, and to put pressure on governments to protect them and ensure their safety by opening the border for those willing to cross, or receive guarantees and undertakings by the controlling forces on the ground not to arrest, detain or torture those who wish to remain, and also to provide a suitable environment for journalistic to work without any pressure or threat.

An Anadolu Agency freelance reporter is among the trapped journalists, as well as media activists and media workers, which the association said “are facing an imminent danger”.

“In the last few days, most media workers were forced to move to a narrow geographical area in Quneitra region. However, some media workers were besieged in ‘Daraa Al Balad’ and the adjacent western countryside,” the association said in a statement.

Since June 20, the Assad regime has waged a wide-ranging military operation — supported by Russian air power – leading the regime and its allies to establish control over most of the country’s southernmost border with Jordan in line with a cease-fire deal between Russia and armed opposition groups. The fighting has led to a major displacement crisis, with an estimated 350,000 civilians fleeing Daraa in recent days towards areas near the Jordanian border.

Following peace talks held last year in Kazakh capital Astana, Daraa was designated a “de-escalation zone” in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited. Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.