More Than Two Years After Recapture, Regime Forces Still Burn, Damage Homes in Daraa

Regime forces are demolishing and setting fire to properties owned by pro-opposition residents in rural Daraa, even though more than two years have passed since the reconciliation agreement that saw the area return to government control.

Most recently, in mid-August, a local militia aligned with Daraa’s Military Security Branch carried out a raid in the town of Umm Walad in the rural eastern countryside of the Daraa governorate, during which they burned homes.

Since 2011, regime forces have burned homes in the Daraa region to persuade their owners to stop participating in anti-government protests. Later, regime forces deliberately destroyed dozens of homes in areas under their control in Daraa in response to military operations launched by opposition factions.

Then, regime forces destroyed property owned by pro-opposition residents in the so-called “Triangle of Death” area of northern Daraa governorate after they regained control of the zone in February 2015. The area, located along the borders of the Daraa, Quneitra and Damascus Countryside governorates, received its name after regime forces recaptured it with assistance from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps through bloody battles with the opposition. After recapturing it, regime forces blew up some 120 homes belonging to alleged opposition sympathisers in the villages of Deir Al-Adas and Kafrnasej in the rural northern countryside of Daraa, and in Deir Maker, Al-Danaji and Al-Habariyeh in the western part of the Damascus Countryside Governorate, according to The Syria Report’s correspondent in the area.

The demolitions are often supervised by teams of regime military engineers, who receive orders from the security apparatus. Nevertheless, papers are released afterwards that blame “armed terrorist groups” for the destruction. The Syria Report obtained a copy of one such paper, and confirmed its authenticity. The documents are issued by local municipal councils under the purview of the Ministry of Local Administration and Environment and are then sent to the Daraa governorate council’s Subcommittee on Damages, where a mayor and two witnesses sign them.

Regime forces continued burning and destroying homes in rural Daraa even after they regained control of the governorate in mid-2018, pushing many residents to flee and barring others from returning home to their villages following reconciliation agreements.

The Yarmouk Basin area along the Syrian-Jordanian-Israeli borders, which was under the control of an Islamic State-affiliated militia, saw similar operations, where regime forces and the so-called “reconciliation factions” targeted homes of local extremist fighters after recapturing them.

Overall, these demolitions prevented many residents from returning to their hometowns. Many families who lost their homes are still displaced elsewhere in rural Daraa, or in neighbouring countries such as Jordan and Lebanon. A lack of funds has prevented those with damaged homes from repairing them.

A Syrian government-issued document holding "terrorist groups" responsible for destroying a house in Deir Al-Adas.

Source: The Syria Report