Assad Forces Close Moadamiah, Threaten to Invade if Rebels Refuse to Leave

About 45,000 civilians faced with choosing between leaving towards Jarablus or letting the regime declare it a military area, activist claims

The Assad regime yesterday closed the crossing to the city of Moadamiah in the Damascus countryside and threatened to storm it hours after the beginning of a US-Russian sponsored truce was implemented in Syria.

Sources said that the regime had closed the crossing and threatened to invade the city if 300 people, including 50 families, continued to refuse to resettle and leave the city. The Assad government had agreed to let only 300 people leave from those rejecting settlement, from an original 2,500, including about 1,000 fighters. The city of Jarablus in the Aleppo countryside in northern Syria was specified for them as the sole destination, without any international guarantees. Local sources said that the people were afraid the regime would impose conditions aiming to subjugate the city, and keep a portion of those rejecting settlement with the aim of abusing them later.

Activists said that about 45,000 civilians were under siege in Moadamiah, left with two options: Either leave toward Jarablus or evacuate the civilians so that the regime declares it a military area. They pointed to the difficulty of reaching Jarablus, where clashes are raging in its countryside between the Free Syrian Army, supported by Turkey, and ISIS.

Sources in the city of Moadamiah said that the council representing the people of the city proposed to regime representatives the exit of 950 rebel fighters with light weapons and their families to liberated areas of the Idleb countryside. The sources said that the regime representatives responded that they were studying this request. This comes after Assad forces threatened the people of Moadamiah with intensified bombardment on the city if they reject the conditions of a settlement to allow the regime to enter the city and for the rebels to turn over their weapons and settle their status according to specific procedures with the regime. Activists from Moadamiah tweeted saying that the regime agencies had informed the people of a number of points, most importantly that everyone had to turn over their weapons and settle their status, with promises to open the road and provide services to the city.

Meanwhile, regime forces continued to isolate the Houla area, which is under siege, from the other cities of the Homs countryside, while preventing foodstuffs and various medical items from entering. In Homs, sources also said that the regime had released 194 prisoners, including 17 women, within the framework of completing the implementation of a deal with the Waer district, the last district under opposition control in the city of Homs. They added that the next stage guarantees the exit of about 300 people who had rejected the deal from the Waer area towards Idleb province. Subsequently, there will be a meeting with regime officials to discuss achieving a full agreement and releasing lists of prisoners, which the opposition has previously submitted, and which include 7,573 prisoners.

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.


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