Syria Situation Report: January 8-29, 2021
By Isabel Ivanescu
Key Takeaway: Fighting between pro-Assad regime forces and local opposition elements in Dera’a Province is at its most intense since Russia brokered reconciliation agreements between the two factions in 2018. Iranian-backed regime units have surrounded the town of Tafas after suffering several casualties while trying to storm the town. Russia-backed forces have pursued their standard approach, pushing for a negotiated solution while other factions in the pro-regime bloc prepare to use force. There has been an inflection in Russian behavior, however; Russia did not intervene to stop the first assault on the town by Iranian-backed forces and threatened to itself carry out airstrikes in the vicinity if locals refused to turn over individuals wanted by the regime. This may represent a Russian belief that Tafas, a hub of anti-Assad activity, will be less likely to capitulate than other towns in which similar events have previously transpired.