Sources in the Syrian and Jordanian armies reported Thursday that due to instability in southern Syria and the shelling of the Daraa area in southwestern Syria which killed some 93 people, as many as 45,000 Syrian refugees are making their way to the border with Israel – after Jordan declared its refusal to absorb any more fleeing Syrian civilians.
Jens Laerke of the United Nations Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) stated on Wednesday that the fighting has affected an estimated 750,000 people in the southern Syrian province, with at least 45,000 people having been “internally displaced” due to ongoing fighting between the rebels and government forces.
Bettina Luescher from the World Food Programme (WFP) warned that the number of displaced people “could more than double as the violence escalates.”
The Assad Army began its offensive in southwest Syria last week, hitting the Daraa region. The attack began with heavy shelling and airstrikes and is expected to escalate into an all-out ground assault by the Syrian Army in the Daraa-Sweida provinces. During the first few days of its offensive, the Syrian Army captured at least seven towns from the rebels.
Jordan, which has become home for more than a million Syrian refugees since the start of the hostilities more than six years ago, has been emphatic about its refusal to let even one more Syrian fleeing the horrors of the civil war. So as casualties continue to mount, a multitude of runaway civilians has been reportedly moving south-west, to the Israeli Golan Heights, for shelter.
On Wednesday, Reuters reported that Assad army air raids struck more rebel-held towns in southwest, destroying hospitals and slaughtering civilians with Russian support, while Washington has yet to respond. UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura warned things in the Daraa area are about to reach the carnage of the battles of Eastern Ghouta and Aleppo – combined.
Abu Bakr al-Hassan, commander of the Syrian rebel army, told reporters about an understanding that Israel will be controlling events east of the Golan Heights. “Israel sent weapons and ammunition to help the fighters defend themselves,” he said. “Israel is working to create a region without violence in Syria, and possibly the region will include unarmed Syrian fighters, and police who be allowed to operate without heavy weapons.”
Al Hassan said that the area “will be under the influence of the Israelis and will include people who work with them.”