During the past days, the contested town of Sheikh Meskin in the countryside of Daraa has witnessed fierce urban combat as both Islamist rebels and the Syrian Arab Army refuse to retreat. Momentarily, clashes are ongoing in the southern districts as the Syrian Army has secured and entrenched the roundabout in the southeastern part of the city. Effectively, government troops now control 70 % of the city according to military source.
In an attempt to reduce casualties, government troops are increasingly relying on artillery and Russian airstrikes to dislodge dug in rebels. Meanwhile, militants fighting under the banner of the Free Syrian Army have abandoned the town while Jabhat al-Nusra has called in reinforcements from the Daraa countryside and reportedly doubled their local manpower.
Sheikh Meskin holds enormous strategical significance which explains why both parties refuse to give up control of the city. Sheikh Meskin, which has been largely bombed out, is known as the ‘crossroad of the south’ as it connects both Damascus with Daraa and Sweida with Quneitra which effectively explains why Syrian Arab Army commanders insist on recapturing the city.