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The crisis in Syria’s southern province of Daraa continues, as the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) elite 4th Division deployed heavy rocket launchers.
They brought the weapons near the southern part of Daraa city, known as Daraa al-Balad on August 20th
Syrian pro-government sources said that the rocket launchers were deployed to mount more pressure on the gunmen, who are still refusing to leave the area and conclude any sort of agreement.
Late on August 20th, Mohamed Hilal Zatima, a former rebel commander, was killed by SAA shelling in the area where the gunmen are dug in.
The killing of Zatima will likely lead to more escalation in Daraa al-Balad, which the SAA expects, as some local media report that an ultimatum was put forth, providing the former rebels with at most 15 days to surrender their weapons.
Less than a week earlier, Russia offered local leaders in Daraa al-Balad a roadmap that would fulfill the demands of Syrian authorities and guarantee the rights of the locals, which the former rebels rejected.
Meanwhile, Russia’s efforts in Greater Idlib are a bit less diplomatic towards Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and other al-Qaeda-affiliated factions.
On August 19th, Russian warplanes bombed a headquarters of HTS in the town of Ein Shib in the western Idlib countryside.
On August 20th, a series of airstrikes hit Ein Shib as well as the town of Qurqnia in the northern countryside of Idlib.
On August 21st, Russian airstrikes destroyed a compound located near the town of Hmeimat in the al-Ghab Plains in the northwestern countryside of Hama. The region is an infamous stronghold of HTS, the de-facto ruler of Greater Idlib, and the Turkistan Islamic Party.
On August 22nd, making it four days in a row, airstrikes struck the outskirts of the towns of Kansafra, Mareian and Almaouzrah in the al-Zawiya Mount in the southern countryside of Idlib.
These efforts are necessary because HTS and the factions with it continue to violate the ceasefire agreement in Greater Idlib, while Turkey does nothing but undermines it even further.
Ankara is mostly focused on fighting the Kurdish groups in Northeastern Syria.
Turkish combat drones continue to target areas held by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Syria’s northeastern region.
On August 21st and 22nd, Turkish drone strikes struck vehicles belonging to the SDF, no human losses were reported.
On August 20th, however, Turkey carried out two lethal drone strikes.
The first strike claimed the life of Saladin al-Shihabi, an Iranian Kurdish commander of the SDF.
The second strike claimed the lives of four personnel of the SDF, including a commander of the Tell Tamer Military Council.
The SDF blamed Russia of being unable to contain the ceasefire violations by Turkey and the terrorist factions it backs.