Local Council in Dara’a Declares City a Disaster Area as Russian Airstrikes Intensify

The local council in Dara’a declared the FSA-held parts of the city a disaster area as the Russian jets continue to relentlessly bomb the city. The intense airstrikes have killed seven people and knocked out six field hospitals in the past few days.

At least seven people from one family were killed in Russian airstrikes that targeted the areas close to the Jordanian border where hundreds of families fled from Dara’a escaping Russian airstrikes. The Russian jets also struck a field hospital in Dara’a city on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the Washington-based International Rescue Committee (IRC) said that Dara’a Albalad hospital was put out of service following a rocket attack on Monday evening. While no one was killed, four health workers were injured in the attack, which also caused huge damage to the IRC-supported hospital.

Russian air forces have carried out no fewer than 40 airstrikes on Dara’a city in the past few days, mainly targeting vital civilian facilities in Dara’a Albalad and Tarqi Alsad districts. The ongoing wave of Russian airstrikes on Dara’a is the first to hit the province since Russia intervened directly on Assad’s side in late September 2015.

The punishing aerial campaign Russia has launched on Dara’a came in response to the advances made by the FSA groups inside Dara’a on Sunday. The FSA groups launched a major offensive on the regime-held parts of Dara’a, capturing the district of Manshiya. The offensive aims to thwart the regime plans to advance on Nassib border crossing with Jordan and came in response to the ongoing truce violations by regime forces and their allies.

Meanwhile, the UN on Tuesday said it was “very concerned about an increase in fighting in and around Dar’a City over the past few days, which has resulted in the displacement of over 9,000 men, women and children so far.”

Farhan Haq, Deputy spokesman for the UN secretary-general, said that many of the displaced have moved to farms and villages south east of Dar’a city. Additional people are likely to be displaced in the coming days if the fighting continues, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

The Syrian Coalition condemned the brutal bombardment campaign by regime forces and their allies in Dara’a province, stressing that it constitutes a blatant violation of the ceasefire agreement.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Coalition said that the campaign is being carried out with the direct support of Russia, a guarantor country, which puts the cease-fire agreement at risk of total collapse.

The Assad regime forces, backed by Russian air forces and the Iranian-backed militias, have committed no fewer than 80 breaches of the ceasefire agreement in the past three days, including over 30 breaches in Dara’a city and its countryside.

These breaches have resulted in horrible massacres claiming the lives of at least 47 people, mostly civilians.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies / 16.02.2017)


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