More than 700 armed rebels and individuals wanted by the regime in Daraa handed themselves and their weapons over to regime authorities on Saturday as part of a reintegration agreement, reported regime news outlets including the official Syrian Baath Party daily A-Thawra on Sunday.
During reintegration agreements, individuals in rebel-held areas or who are associated with the opposition and want to gain access to regime-held areas submit their names to councils consisting of regime representatives and local dignitaries in rebel-controlled territory for vetting.
Yet pro-opposition activists rebels doubt the numbers reported by the regime.
“The numbers involved and the guns that were depicted in the television reports are not true,” Ammar a-Zayid, a correspondent with the pro-opposition Al-Jisr satellite channel living in Daraa province, tells Syria Direct’s Mohammad Al-Haj Ali.
Q: What happened with this reintegration agreement, given some opposition activists denied that it even took place?
There is no doubt that there was a reintegration agreement, but the numbers involved and the guns that were depicted in the television reports are not true.
In actuality, no more than 250 persons [participated in the agreement] according to eyewitnesses from Daraa who live next to the Baath Party headquarters in Daraa city. The Syrian people know very well the nature of the regime media and its policy of inflating events.
This reintegration agreement really involves a group of [previous] employees and wanted individuals who have been cut off from their livelihoods and stopped receiving their salaries because of their stand with the revolution. However, after years of [the regime’s] oppression of citizens, some have resorted to reintegration and normalization with the murderous regime.
Q: Why would the regime take this step now? What is its goal?
This step greatly helps the regime, especially from a PR standpoint since it illustrates to everyone the conspiracy in Syria. [The regime hopes that] the papers and some of the written reports would be presented to the United Nations Security Council and the other international organizations. The regime also hopes that some of its lies concerning the conspiracy [against Syria] will be believed, and that it will regain the support of the international community once gain.
Q: How will those who enter into this agreement benefit?
[The reconciliation agreement] will get employees their salaries [and jobs] back and facilitate wanted individuals movement through regime-controlled areas.