This is part of what I like to call the "Aleppoisation" of Southern Syria. What I mean by this is that I believe what we are seeing in the Daraa region and it's environs mirrors what has occurred in the Aleppo region over the past year. Simply put, we saw the opposition in the north acquiring increasingly powerful weapons, which allowed them to move from attacking checkpoints to increasingly larger military bases, allowing them access to more anti-aircraft weapons, which provided the protection to deploy armoured vehicles and artillery, which were then used to attack even larger bases.
Early fighting in the Daraa region resulted in the capture of smaller bases, including an air-base near El Sahoah, north-east of Daraa city, where a number of armoured vehicles and artillery pieces were captured, a couple of examples of which are shown below
Other bases with armoured vehicles and other useful equipment were captured, and on March 23rd the capture of the 38th Division Air Defense Base, just east of Daraa city and located on the major Damascus-Amman highway, resulted in a large amount of equipment being captured, including SA-7 MANPADS, much needed air defence equipment for the opposition in that region
As the Institute for the Study of War report on the situation in the south of the country noted:
Syrian MP Walid al-Zoubi conceded the significance of this loss to the regime in a speech to the Syrian Parliament in which he said “the most important military position” in the region fell because the regime lost control of the highway from Khirbet Ghazaleh to the borderA few days later the capture of Dael, located on a strategic highway from Damascus to Daraa, reflected the strategy used in the north of the country of capturing key routes, isolating government forces in towns and bases across the region, before attacking them directly, all the while using their increasing arsenal to take on larger and more difficult targets.
Since then fighting has focused on a number of areas, including the opposition held town of Khirbet Ghazaleh, located east of Dael, and on the same major highway as the 38th Division Air Defense Base. Again, this reflects the strategy used in the north, and in the last few days it appears that groups based in that town have begun using armoured vehicles for the first time in the Daraa region. Here's a couple of examples
It seems increasingly there's evidence of the same pattern of events unfolding in the south of the country as we've seen in the north, and it's very likely there will be more attacks on bases in the region, more attempts to capture towns on major routes, and an increasingly well-armed opposition. What makes this significant is Daraa is pretty much on Damascus' doorstep, so the reaction of government forces to these advances will no doubt have a greater sense of urgency to them. It is interesting to note the arrival of more Croatian weapons in the south of the country in recent weeks, this time RAK 12 multiple rocket launchers, a significant step up in the type of weapons provided to the opposition, and with reports of thousands of tonnes of weapons transferred from Croatia to Jordan I have to wonder if the Syrian government can expect more surprises from the opposition in Daraa in the coming months.
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