The Court of Justice in Houran issued an announcement on Saturday demanding that Free Syrian Army-affiliated checkpoints prevent the passage of any truce delegations from opposition to regime-controlled areas.
The announcement was released after talk in Daraa province began circulating that individuals associated with the regime were promoting local truces, in addition to a recent Syrian regime announcement referring to “amnesty” for civilians in the southern province.
Official state news agency SANA published on Thursday a list of 256 people who benefitted from the Amnesty Regulation 15 for 2016, and “returned to the national fold.”
“A series of meetings have taken place since last Sunday with what are called truce delegations in the city of al-Sanmein and Muthibein village in the northern Daraa countryside,” Abu al-Majed, a civilian living in regime-controlled al-Sanmein, told the Syrian Voice.
“Regime people attended these meetings and Syrian television was there. The TV crew filmed the meetings as if they were civilians coming from opposition areas for amnesty.”
But the civilians who came were forced to appear in front of television, according to Abu Al-Majed.
He said that members of the truce delegations were people loyal to the Syrian regime, including regime employees “who only represent themselves, or at the most a small number of Daraa residents.”
Another Daraa civilian told the Syrian Voice that “the regime broadcast televised reports a few days ago saying that a number of civilians and militants from opposition areas returned to the nation’s embrace and were granted amnesty.”
“But we learned later that these people were already in regime-held areas and were forced to appear on television.”
“Denying these truces exist does not mean that individuals or some families don’t move between regime and opposition areas searching for a better, and less dangerous life. But it’s different than the regime media is making it out to be.”
A source with the FSA-affiliated Southern Front who preferred anonymity told the Syrian Voice that “we absolutely refuse to sign truces.”
“Our checkpoints prevent the passage of any person who belongs to a regime truce delegation.”
“Baath party members are those who are calling for truces and ceasefires. They are members of the Syrian regime but claim to represent Daraa residents.”
“They only represent themselves.”
“Some civilians have used rebel brigades’ excesses and the security lapses as a pretext to sign truces,” said the Southern Front source.
“Some families left for regime-held areas because of that, which pushed us to demand that rebel brigades and the Daraa Courthouse get the spread of weapons under control and hold criminals to account.”
Rebel brigades are likely to take the Houran Courthouse’s decision seriously considering it is the only judicial power in Daraa province. There are laws in place that force rebel brigades to abide by the courthouse’s decision, according to Ahmed Eid al-Rahman, a media activist in Inkhil city.
“We Daraa civilians refuse to sign any truces with the Assad regime and we stand with the courthouse’s decision.”
Waleed al-Noufal, a Daraa native and reporter with Amman-based Syria Direct, told the Syrian Voice that “the Syrian regime tries to impose truces through all available means on civilians. It offers carrots in the form of humanitarian aid, and promises people it will provide them with electricity, flour, and other necessary goods.”
“The regime also terrifies people by bombing hospitals and popular markets in a clear message that the alternative to truces is fire and steel.”
Syrian state media agency SANA relayed testimony from a number of civilians saying that rebel attempts to sabotage negotiations would fail, and that they were committed to making the truces succeed, having their towns return to normal, and getting their lives back.
SANA reported that 500 people from all areas around Daraa and its countryside were granted amnesty on Wednesday, making the total number over the past two years 2,500 people.
SANA reported that people who were wanted by the police, or for mandatory military service, were among those who turned themselves in.
Daraa province is witnessing an ongoing security lapse. Over the past two days there have been two acts of armed aggression by FSA-affiliated groups. Rebels are faced with the challenge of meeting civilians’ need for security.