Syrian regime loses its grip on Daraa province
By Waleed Abu al-Khair in Cairo
Syrian regime forces have largely lost control of the southern province of Daraa in the wake of a surge of opposition to their presence in the region, a local activist said.
Armed youth have been attacking and occupying security checkpoints and barricades and detaining the soldiers manning them, activist Jumaa al-Masalma told Diyaruna.
This comes in response to the arbitrary arrests carried out by regime forces, he said, adding that "regime forces have begun to lose control over Daraa province".
Over the last few hours, armed youth attacked a large number of security checkpoints and army posts and clashed with regime soldiers, he said.
According to al-Masalma, these developments stemmed from the tension that has been simmering for some time over the regime's campaign of arbitrary arrests, and its refusal to stop the arrests and release the detainees.
Incident in Nahta
The latest clashes were sparked by the arrest of a resident of the town of Nahta in eastern rural Daraa, which prompted residents to attack and occupy a regime military post and detain the soldiers manning it, al-Masalma said.
The wave of anger quickly spread to nearby towns and villages, where many residents expressed solidarity with Nahta after the regime threatened to storm the town to free its soldiers, he added.
Some checkpoints in Daraa are now occupied by local armed groups, he said, and the regime soldiers manning them were detained.
Other checkpoints are witnessing intermittent clashes lasting hours, he added, noting that tension prevails in the towns of Karak al-Sharqi, Saida, Tafas, al-Maliha al-Gharbiyah, Dael, Tal Shihab, al-Muzayrib, Maaraba and Nawa.
"The local population has taken up the call for the regime to release local detainees," he said, with several statements demanding their release and making the release of the regime soldiers and restoration of calm contingent on it.
Al-Masalma said activists have documented the arbitrary arrest of 1,000 youth in the region, noting that the regime has refused to disclose their location or reveal the charges that have been levied against them.