JEDDAH: With Eastern Ghouta captured, the Assad regime is setting its sights on one of the country’s last opposition strongholds — Deraa, the cradle of the Syrian uprising.
And despite Saturday’s devastating US-led missile attack to degrading the regime’s chemical arsenal and deterring the Syrian leader from using such weapons again, leading opposition figures said they now feared the people of Deraa faced the same fate as the victims of Douma.
“I am sure that Assad still has a chemical weapons stockpile and will use it when he needs it in the process of displacement,” Hisham Marwah, a representative of Syria’s High Negotiations Committee, told Arab News.
“In Douma … when civilians refused to leave, he used chemical gas to drive them out, and this process will be repeated.”
Idlib province in the north is the biggest opposition bastion and contains hard-line militant groups. But a de-escalation deal between Turkey and Russia and the challenge posed by the complex opposition network there means Bashar Assad is expected to delay any attempt to recapture the area.
“After Ghouta, it’s likely the Syrian government will head south — the current situation in Deraa must be finished off,” said Bassam Abou Abdallah, who heads the Damascus Centre for Strategic Studies.