A joint Syrian army-Hizballah force was unable in two weeks of vicious warfare to break the resistance of the Syrian rebels holding out in Daraa and capture the southern Syrian town. On Saturday, June 17, they declared a 48-hour ceasefire until Monday and gave the rebels an ultimatum: Withdraw with your families to Jordan during the pause under a safe conduct guarantee, or else face the resumption of the ferocious hammering by the Syrian army’s crack 4th armored division and Hizballah’s al-Qaim commando brigade.
Up until the ceasefire, those forces dropped on the rebels holding out in Daraa 712 explosive barrels from helicopters and fired 450 rockets in 166 air sorties. If the rebels choose to fight on and reject the ultimatum, they will face those Syrian and Hizballah forces fortified with advanced Russian-made Mi-25 “flying tanks,” which are capable of carrying even heavier amounts of barrel bombs and armed with anti-tank rockets for striking fortified rebel positions.
Upon receipt of this ultimatum, DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report that the rebels holed up in Daraa turned to the Jordanian high command for instructions on whether face up to the coming onslaught or cave in and retreat. The Jordanians referred the query to the US command in Syria and Iraq and it was passed on to Washington.
But Sunday afternoon, there was no reply.
Once the rebels abandon Daraa to the Syrian and Hizballah armies, the battle for the entire region of southern Syria will be lost. Unless they are stopped, those armies will be able to go forward under Iranian direction and capture Quneitra just a few kilometers from Israel’s Golan border, after the fall of Daraa brings them right up to the Syrian border with Jordan. READ MORE