The US is “very concerned” about the recent uptick in violence in Syria’s southwestern Daraa following this week’s clashes between Assad regime forces and opposition fighters, a State Department official said Friday.
“We are very concerned about the situation in Daraa, including reports of harm to civilians and the extremely difficult and restrictive conditions imposed on the inhabitants by the Syrian regime,” the official, speaking on background, told Al Arabiya English in an email.
The clashes have been one of the deadliest of fighting in Syria in recent months. Russia, along with Iran, a powerful backer of Bashar al-Assad, helped mediate a ceasefire in Daraa after the Syrian army recaptured the province in 2018.
But this week’s violence was reportedly initiated after government forces tried to launch a raid on Daraa, which was met with a quick response from opposition fighters.
“Syrian human rights groups report that civilians are being killed in the fighting, with thousands displaced and thousands more suffering food and medication shortages,” the State Department official said Friday.
“These events are further proof of what the United States has long said: Syria’s humanitarian crisis is a direct result of the Assad regime’s appalling and relentless attacks on the Syrian people,” the official added.
Washington has been firm on calling for the Assad regime to cooperate with UN Security Resolution 2254, which called for a political solution and a new constitution.
With the help of Tehran and Moscow, Assad has withstood this pressure and remained in power since the war broke out in 2011.
“We call on all sides to immediately de-escalate and allow aid and civilians to move freely,” the State Department official said.
Ceasefire is not a solution; ‘it’s a band aid’
Charles Lister, director of the Middle East Institute’s (MEI) Syria Program, said the outbreak of fighting symbolized the failure of “Russia’s so-called reconciliation approach to Syria’s crisis.”
“The last three years have shown clearly that the regime isn’t interested in reconciling, only in punishing and controlling,” Lister told Al Arabiya English.
Asked if another ceasefire would put an end to the fighting, Lister said it was possible.
“But that’s not a solution; it’s a band aid,” he said.