Monday, May 18, 2020
This came as Damascus blamed a former rebel leader for the May 4 abduction and killing of nine policemen in the nearby town of Muzayrib. The security situation in Deraa, which the government took back from opposition forces in 2018, under a Russian-brokered agreement that allowed rebels to retain light weapons and a degree of local control in towns, is marked by chronic instability, including hundreds of killings, but this was an unusually bloody single incident. It followed a series of assassinations of senior officials in mid-April and the government siege in March of the northern Deraa town of Sanamayn.
- Deraa’s ongoing instability will feed criticism of Assad in Moscow, which has deployed substantial military police in the area.
- Damascus will put regaining sovereignty in the north before fully controlling former opposition groups in Deraa.
- Islamic State could take advantage of the chaos to rebuild its networks, but will remain a secondary player.