Daraa offensive (February–June 2017)Wikipedia open wikipedia design.
The Daraa offensive (February–June 2017), code named as the battle of "Death Rather than Humiliation" (Arabic: الموت ولا المذلة) by the rebels, was a military operation launched by Syrian rebels against positions of the Syrian Arab Army in the Manshiyah District of Daraa city, in southern Syria, during the Syrian Civil War.
In the first half of 2016, heavy fighting had taken place between (and also within) factions connected to ISIS, on one side, and Jabhat al-Nusra and Free Syrian Army factions, on the other. At the end of this period, the rebels emerged victorious but ISIS had made some advances. Several rebel groups formed the al-Bunyan al-Marsous Operations Room (BM) in June 2016, composed of several Southern Front factions and Islamist groups Jaish al-Islam, Ahrar al-Sham and a small al-Nusra contingent. In February 2017, this coalition (with al-Nusra now re-constituted as Tahrir al-Sham or HTS) started advancing on government-held territory in Daraa.
Initial rebel gains
On 12 February 2017, two suicide bombers from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, at least one of them a Jordanian foreign fighter, launched two car bombs at Syrian Army positions in the Al-Manshiyah district of southern Daraa city. Syrian government sources reported that both vehicles were destroyed before they could reach their target, while the rebel coalition Al-Bunyan al-Marsous (BM) claimed four government fighters were killed. The frontlines in the city were lined with fortifications, and the rebels did not make any gains. The Army launched artillery and "Elephant" lob bombs at rebel positions after they repelled the assault.
On 13 February, the rebels claimed to have captured several buildings in Manshiyah. After the rebel advance, the Russian Air Force conducted dozens of airstrikes on rebel positions in Daraa. The next day, the Army launched a counter-attack that they said resulted in the recapture of several points in Manshiyah. By 14 February BM had claimed to have captured significant territory, including Manshiyah Mosque, and that Hezbollah and National Defense Force reinforcements arrived in the city.
On 15 February, Tahrir al-Sham fighters captured some areas in the northeastern part of Manshiyah; however, later in the day the Army said it had recaptured all of the lost points and launched a counter-offensive capturing the eastern part of the district. According to Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the UN Secretary General, over 9,000 civilians fled the city of Daraa as of 15 February. By 17 February, pro-government sources had reported 36 deaths on the pro-government side, including one Iranian and eleven officers, and the next day BM announced the successful completion of the “First Phase” of its offensive.
Offensive stalls and Army counter-attack
On 20 February, the rebels launched the "third phase" of their offensive with fighting intensifying. However, the same day, an ISIL affiliate, the Khalid ibn al-Walid Army, took advantage of the rebels' redirection of personnel for the assault on Manshiyah and launched its own offensive west of Daraa against the rebels. The Khalid ibn al-Walid Army captured Tasil, as well as four other towns and villages and a hill. The rebels managed to recapture only two towns. Over a period of three days, 132 people were killed in the jihadi offensive, mostly combatants. Due to the attack on rebel positions, the offensive in Daraa city stalled.
The Syrian Army reportedly recaptured some positions in a joint Hezbollah, NDF, and 5th Armored Division counter-attack on 23 February. However, the same day, a rebel suicide-bomber blew himself up near an Army checkpoint amid a renewed rebel attempt to break through government fortifications in the city. The following day, the Russian Navy launched long-range ballistic missiles at rebel positions in the al-Bilad district in retaliation for the suicide-bombing.
On 24 February, a rebel Omar rocket strike targeted Muawiyas in the Manshiyah district; government sources claimed a school was destroyed. The same day, Republican Guard reinforcements arrived in Daraa, numbering 500 troops, ahead of a major Army counter-attack. Pro-rebel sources later claimed that Jordan expelled families of rebel fighters killed in the offensive.
On 5 March, the Army launched a new counter-attack, and reported capturing several buildings in Daraa Al-Bilad neighborhood, taking advantage of the lack of rebel manpower which was diverted to repel the Khalid ibn al-Walid Army's offensive. The next day, the 5th Armoured division of the Republican Guard recaptured a few building blocks in Manshiyah, thus almost completely reversing rebel gains made in February. The Army made additional gains in the Al-Bilad neighborhood and seized some areas around the Al-Musarif Roundabout on 8 March.
On 12 March, BM announced the "fourth phase" of its offensive. The government reported that a rebel suicide car-bomber killed and injured several soldiers in Manshiyah. Following this, the rebels recaptured a building in the district. On 13 March, the rebels captured the Abu-alraha building block in Manshiyah. After this, fighting eased for some days, although BM continued to report minor territorial advances eastward.
On 16 March, the Syrian Army attacked multiple rebel-held districts of the city, reportedly killing at least 14 rebel fighters.
On 25 March, the government renewed its counter-attack. Artillery and missile attacks were launched by the Army in Daraa and its north-eastern countryside; according to pro-government sources these destroyed three rebel bases, resulting in the deaths of over 20 fighters. The following day, the 5th Division of the Republican Guard with the support of Hezbollah and the special forces of the 15th Division stormed Manshiyah, reportedly seizing numerous buildings and causing around 40 rebel casualties. BM, however, claimed there was no territorial change and released the names of new pro-government deaths in action, including a general from the 15th Suweida Paratroopers, a Colonel, and a Lieutenant.
On 27 March, BM again renewed its attack. Tahrir al-Sham fighters continued to attack Army positions in the Manshiyah neighborhood. The military was also attacking rebel positions throughout the city and the sporadic clashes continued into early April.
Renewed rebel offensive
On 4 April, BM launched a new eight-day assault on the southern and western sections of Manshiyah. BM media claimed multiple Hezbollah casualties, then on 5-6 April significant territorial gains and destruction of government military infrastructure. Both BM and government sources reported that the rebels detonatated a VBIED inside the government-held parts of the Manshiyah District on 6 April, killing scores of government troops and forcing them to retreat. A second VBIED hit another building in the same area. During the fighting the rebels seized three security buildings which served as HQ for the Syrian Army.
On 8 April, the rebels launched another assault on the Manshiyah District, capturing large parts of the district after a fierce battle. The rebels broke through the Army’s defenses around the western perimeter of the Manshiyah District, giving them the upper-hand in the battle and getting them close to capturing the district. By 9 April, rebels claim to have killed 103 Syrian government fighters, nine Hezbollah fighters, and one Iranian as well as destroyed six tanks and six Shilkas since 12 February.
Still, two days later, the Army reported it had launched a counter-attack supported by the Russian Air Force. Despite the Army's counter-attack, the rebels claimed they captured the "15 Residential Block" after hours of fierce fighting.
On 12 April, the rebels recaptured the territory they lost to the Army in their counter-attack, including several building blocks near the district’s center.
On 14 April, rebels launched a new 11-day offensive, with further advances in Manshiyah, capturing the Al-Maqsem Checkpoint and its nearby building blocks, the Muaya’a school and the Oqba Bin Nafya mosque. By 15 April, the rebels were in control of between 70 and 90 percent of the Manshiyah district. However, government sources reported that further rebel progress was halted on 16 April by heavy Russian airstrikes.
On 18 April, the Army, backed by Russian airstrikes, launched a counter-offensive in the Manshiyah district, and reported recovering some points during the fighting. However, the rebels remained in control of over 60 percent of the district. Over the next two days, the rebels counter-attack continued and recaptured several positions, leaving them once again in control of 80 percent of Manshiyah.
On 25 April, the rebels started another attack on Army positions in the Manshiyah District by using an explosive hose. While the rebels failed to take the strategic Al-Arshadiyah Checkpoint, they did capture 12 buildings during the fighting. The next day, heavy artillery shelling and airstrikes reportedly caused heavy casualties among rebel forces.
On May 5 a ceasefire, brokered by Russia, comes into effect in four regions of Syria, including Dara’a, and fighting paused.
Final rebel push
Fighting broke out again on 17 May. Pro-government media reported a failed rebel offensive in which two HTS and one FSA Saif al Haq commander were killed, “Bilal Abu Zaid and Abu Hashem al-Tabuki (a Saudi national) of HTS, as well as Moetaz al-Nabwani.” BM claimed that the government attempted to regain lost positions under the cover of heavy shelling, calling the attack “a major breach of the agreement to ease the escalation” in the city. The Carter Center claimed that regime forces failed to advance in the district.
In late May, the rebels and a pro-opposition journalist reported that despite Russia's declaration of a "de-escalation zone" in the area multiple airstrikes were conducted on Daraa by pro-government forces.
On 24 May, the rebels captured 34 to 40 buildings in Manshiyah after they claimed to had repelled more than two Army attempts to advance in the district. In response to the rebels' advance, the Syrian Air Force launched 22 airstrikes on rebel-held positions. The latest advance reportedly left the rebels in control of 95 percent of Manshiyah.
On 2 June, BM reported a new government offensive and fierce fighting, but no territorial changes, while the following day pro-government media reported a new rebel attack in Manshiyah was repelled. Thirty-one fighters were killed on both sides amid the fighting, including 16 soldiers and 15 rebels. In retaliation for the attack, the Army heavily shelled rebel-held parts of the city the following day. It was also reported the shelling was part of preparations for an upcoming offensive against the rebels in Daraa Fighting continued up until 6 June.
Aftermath – Government offensive
On 7 June, a Syrian Army offensive was launched against the rebels in Daraa city. However, frontlines remained unmoved by the end of June, and there was little significant fighting over the summer.
- Joscelyn, Thomas (February 24, 2017). "Treasury, UN sanction 2 senior leaders in al Qaeda's Syrian branch". Long War Journal. Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
- Lister, Charles (14 Feb 2017). "Charles Lister". Twitter.
- "Regime escalates punishing campaign on Daraa city after rebels bet on risky offensive to keep Jordan border point". Syria:direct. 14 February 2017.
- THOMAS JOSCELYN (13 February 2017). "Jihadists and other rebels assault Syrian regime positions in southern city". Long War Journal.
- "Al-Bonyan al-Mrsous illustrates the reason for the battle, "Death vs Humiliating"". El-Dorar Al-Shamia. 17 February 2017. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
- "Iranian leader close to Soleimani killed in Daraa battles". El-Dorar Al-Shamia. 16 February 2017. Archived from the original on 9 July 2018.
- "Russian jets pound Syrian city of Deraa after rebel gains". Reuters. 14 February 2017.
- "Daraa: rebels kill 7 regime troops, Hezbollah executes army officer". Zaman al-Wasl. 14 April 2017. Retrieved 15 April 2017.
- "Palestinian Refugee Killed in Pro-Gov't Battles". Action Group for Palestinians of Syria. 31 May 2017. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
- "Assad Forces Teetering on Defeat in Last Manshiyah Strongholds". The Syrian Observer. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
- Syrian army and allies step up bombing of rebels in Deraa city
- Fadel, Leith (2017-02-15). "Syrian Army turns the tables on the jihadist rebels in Daraa, several points recaptured: video". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 2017-02-15.
- Tomson, Chris (2017-03-06). "Modest gains as the Syrian Army continues Daraa counter-offensive". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 2017-03-06.
- Adra, Zen (2017-03-12). "Field Report: Suicide bomber attacks government forces in Syria's Daraa". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 2017-03-12.
- News, Al-Masdar (16 April 2017). "Jihadist rebels mourn the death of top commander in Daraa". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
- "Ivan Sidorenko on Twitter".
- ""Al-Bonyan Al-Marsous" Terminates 1st.& 2nd. Phases killing100 soldiers of Assad Regime". El-Dorar Al-Shamia. 19 February 2017. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
- "Коуди Роша on Twitter".
- كتيبة الهندسة و الصواريخ (28 July 2015). "كتيبة الهندسة و الصواريخ - دك محطة المحروقات بجانب فرع المخابرات الجوية بصاروخي عاصفة" – via YouTube.
- Leith Fadel (12 February 2017). "More than 20 jihadist rebels killed in failed Daraa offensive". Al-Masdar News.
- Charkatli, Izat (25 February 2017). "Exclusive: Syrian Army prepares to capture the entirety of Dara'a". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
- Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi (30 March 2017). "The 313 Battalion: A Syrian 'Islamic Resistance' Formation". Retrieved 9 October 2017.
- Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi (5 October 2017). "Katibat Ali Sultan: Syrian IRGC Group". Retrieved 9 October 2017.
- Al-Khalidi, Suleiman (15 February 2017). "Russia strikes Syria after 'Death Over Humiliation' rebel battle". Reuters. Amman.
- 200 killed (12–15 February), 40 killed (25 March), 15+ killed (25 April), 8 killed (26 April), 15 killed (3 June), total of 278+ reported killed
- "'Relative calm' fades in Syria's south as Daraa city fighting roars once again". Syria Direct.
- "Daraa: rebels kill 7 regime troops, Hezbollah executes army officer". Zaman Al Wasl. 14 April 2017.
- Gregory Waters The Battle for Manshiyah: A Victory in 100 Pictures, Bellingcat September 11, 2017
- Paul Antonopoulos (12 February 2017). "Al-Nusra led offensive against the Syrian Army in Daraa spectacularly fails". al-Masdar News.
- Gregory Waters The Battle for Manshiyah: A Victory in 100 Pictures, Bellingcat September 11, 2017
- "Death and humiliation ... Mansheya neighborhood, the focus of rebel shield and ongoing battles". Sham News Network. 12 February 2017.
- Fadel, Leith (2017-02-13). "Newly formed jihadist coalition advances in Daraa". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 2017-02-13.
- Fadel, Leith (2017-02-13). "Syrian Army fights back in Daraa as they attempt to reverse the jihadist gains". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 2017-02-13.
- Tomson, Chris (2017-02-15). "UN worried about clashes in Daraa as 9,000 civilians flee the city". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 2017-02-16.
- Adra, Zen (20 February 2017). "Clashes intensify in Syria's Daraa as rebels launch 3rd phase of offensive". Al-Masdar.
- "Islamic State affiliate's surprise offensive pays off as rebels distracted in Daraa city".
- Tomson, Chris (20 February 2017). "Massive rebel collapse in Daraa as ISIS sweeps through several towns".
- "130 killed in three days of Syria clashes: Monitor - Region - World - Ahram Online".
- "Casualties rise with the continuation of the bloody fight in the western countryside of Daraa, killing more than 130 persons – #SOHR". Retrieved 21 March 2017.
- Fadel, Leith (23 February 2017). "Syrian Army advances in Daraa City after launching counter-assault". al-Masdar News.
- Tomson, Chris (23 February 2017). "Islamist suicide bomber blasts Syrian Army checkpoint in Daraa city (Photos)". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
- Tomson, Chris (2017-02-24). "Russian Navy pounds Islamist rebels in Daraa with ballistic missiles". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 2017-02-24.
- Tomson, Chris (2017-02-25). "School blown to smithereens by rebel missile attack in Daraa (Photos)". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 2017-02-25.
- عمر, محمد (2017-02-27). "الأردن يطرد عائلات مقاتلين في الحر قتلوا بمعركة المنشية "للضغط على الفصائل"". موقع الحل السوري - أخبار سوريا. درعا. Retrieved 2017-02-27.
- Tomson, Chris (2017-03-05). "Tides turn in Daraa as the Syrian Army begins counter-offensive in provincial capital". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 2017-03-06.
- Fadel, Leith (2017-03-08). "Syrian Army seizes several sites inside Daraa City after launching latest military operation". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 2017-03-08.
- Tomson, Chris (13 March 2017). "VIDEO: Syrian Army scores direct hit on Islamist insurgents at building in Daraa city". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
- بعد معارك وهجوم عنيف…فصائل درعا تتمكن من تحقيق تقدم جديد في المدينة
- Fadel, Leith (2017-03-16). "Syrian Army targets jihadist headquarters in Daraa City". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 2017-03-16.
- Mulhem, Suliman (2017-03-25). "Syrian Army destroys 3 bases in Deraa, killing 20+ militants". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 2017-03-25.
- Tomson, Chris (2017-03-25). "Syrian Army advances in Daraa city while Russian airstrikes pummel Islamist rebels". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 2017-03-26.
- "Hayat Tahrir al-Sham Continues Costly Offensive In Dara'a With No Gains". SouthFront blog. 2017-03-30. Retrieved 2017-03-30.
- Antonopoulos, Paul (2017-04-02). "Syrian Army smashes Tahrir al-Sham bases in Daraa city". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 2017-04-02.
- Adra, Zen (6 April 2017). "Field Report: Jihadi rebels renew attack in Daraa". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 8 April 2017.
- Fadel, Leith (8 April 2017). "Jihadist rebels close to capturing key district in Daraa". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 8 April 2017.
- Fadel, Leith (10 April 2017). "Russian jets springboard Syrian Army counter-offensive in key Daraa district". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
- "ثوار درعا يسيطرون على 15 كتلةً في حي المنشية". كلنا شركاء في الوطن (in Arabic). Retrieved 11 April 2017.
- Fadel, Leith (12 April 2017). "Jihadist rebels reverse Syrian Army gains in key Daraa district". al-Masdar News. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
- Fadel, Leith (14 April 2017). "Jihadist rebels advance in Daraa amid latest attack on army positions". Al-Masdar. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
- "Haya'at Tahrir Al-Sham Is About To Capture Al-Minshyah Neighborhood In Dara'a". SouthFront blog. 14 April 2017. Retrieved 14 April 2017.
- "Syrian Army collapses as Islamist rebels swarm through southern Daraa neighborhood". al-Masdar News. 15 April 2017. Retrieved 15 April 2017.
- News, Al-Masdar (16 April 2017). "Russian Air Force saves the day in Daraa amid major assault by jihadists". Retrieved 27 May 2017.
- Fadel, Leith (18 April 2017). "Syrian Army fights back in Daraa after days spent on the defensive". AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
- Fadel, Leith (19 April 2017). "Jihadists launch powerful assault on Daraa City". AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
- Tomson, Chris (20 April 2017). "Islamist rebels on the verge of capturing embattled neighborhood in Daraa city". AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
- "خرطومٌ متفجّرٌ يوقع قتلى وجرحى لقوات النظام في درعا". كلنا شركاء في الوطن (in Arabic). Retrieved 25 April 2017.
- Fadel, Leith (25 April 2017). "Jihadist rebels launch new offensive in Daraa to capture important district". AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
- "فصائل الثوار تسيطر على "12 كتلة عسكرية" في حي المنشية بدرعا". قناة السوري الحر الفضائية. 25 April 2017. Archived from the original on 6 August 2017. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
- Tomson, Chris (27 April 2017). "Rebel forces pay big price for gains in Daraa city - full report". Retrieved 27 May 2017.
- Pro-Assad Bombing and Ground Attacks in Daraa Violate “De-Escalation Zones”, EA Wordlview, 22 May
- "Al-Bonyan Al-Marsous forces the Assad troops to retreat in Manshiyah district of #Daraa". en.eldorar.com. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
- "Syrian Opposition Advances In Manshya Neighborhood In Daraa - Qasion News Agency". Retrieved 25 May 2017.
- Tomson, Chris (2017-05-25). "Islamist rebels advance against the Syrian Army in Daraa safe zone". AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. Retrieved 2017-05-26.
- "Scores of jihadist rebels killed in disastrous Daraa offensive". Al-Masdar. 4 June 2017.
- "Syrian troops pound Daraa after rebel attack".
- "31 fighters and members at least of the factions, regime forces and Hezbollah are killed in the violent clashes of Daraa city, accompanied by about 350 raids, aerial and artillery strikes".
- "Zero hour approaches as Syrian Army, Hezbollah begin important Daraa offensive". Al-Masdar. 4 June 2017.
- "VIDEO: Syrian Army pounds jihadi rebels in Daraa as major offensive begins". Al-Masdar. 7 June 2017.