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Syria regime threatens besieged
Damascus town with “total war”

Negotiators from Moadamiyat al-Sham met with regime figures Tuesday, who called for the handover of the southwest suburb of the capital.

Moadamiyat al-Sham. (Facebook/LensYoungDimashqi)

BEIRUT – The Syrian regime has reportedly threatened to launch a “total war” on Moadamiyat al-Sham if the besieged Damascus suburb does not submit to its terms, days after a deal was reached to evacuate residents and fighters from the nearby town of Darayya.

 

On Tuesday, a negotiating team from Moadamiyat al-Sham held a meeting in the headquarters of the 4th Armored Division overlooking the suburb with regime representatives to discuss the fate of the town, which has been encircled by regime troops since November 2012.

 

A source told Enab Baladi that the regime delegation—which was led by 4th Armored Division chief-of-staff General Ghassan Bilal—informed the town’s negotiators of a series of terms they must comply with.

 

According to the unnamed source in the local Manifest Victory Brigade, the regime asked for the: handover of all weapons in Moadamiyat, entry of state services, “reconciliation” of all residents bearing arms as well as dissenters and evacuation of all those who want to leave.

 

In the event the conditions were not met, the regime figures warned, all civilians would be evacuated and a “total war” would be launched, according to the source.

 

London-based Alaraby Aljadeed reported a similar account of Tuesday’s meeting, which allegedly was also attended by Russian military officers.

 

The newspaper cited sources as saying that the regime threatened the town delegation with the “implementation of a Syrian-Russian military decision to [evacuate] women and children and declare Moadamiyat al-Sham a war zone.”

 

Media activist Mohammad Nour told the daily that the regime delegation also said that Tuesday’s meeting would be the last and demanded the handover the town “within days.”

 

The regime’s purported threat against Moadamiyat al-Sham—which is strategically located next to Damascus’s Mezze military airbase—comes after regime troops moved into the nearby town of Darayya on August 27.

 

Following years of bombardment and clashes, the encircled suburb submitted to regime control after a deal that saw the evacuation of its residents and fighters.

 

Nibras Mohammad, an activist in the region, told the pro-rebel Baladi News said the regime’s moves aim to institute a “radical demographic change” on the outskirts of Damascus, in reference to the Sunni-populated suburbs of Darayya and Moadamiyat al-Sham, both of which were among the first areas in the country to rise up against the Bashar al-Assad government.

 

His comments reflect long-standing fears among the opposition that the Syrian regime aims to empty Sunni-populated areas around the capital that rebelled against the government, further tightening the regime’s grip on power. 

 

NOW's English news desk editor Albin Szakola (@AlbinSzakola) wrote this report. Amin Nasr translated Arabic-language material. 

Damaged buildings in Moadamiyat al-Sham. (Facebook/LensYoungDimashqi)

In the event the conditions were not met, the regime figures warned, all civilians would be evacuated and a “total war” would be launched.