FILE – Syrian man passing near the rubble of buildings in a neighborhood controlled by armed rebel in Deraa on 2 October, 2018. (Photo credit: AFP/Muhammad Abazaid)
Syrian media reported on 24 March that the head of the Al-Sanamayn City Council, Mahmoud al-Mohammed al-Atma, was shot and killed by unidentified assailants in the southern Syrian countryside of Deraa.
“Unidentified gunmen opened fire directly towards Engineer Mahmoud al-Mohammed al-Atma, this morning, while accompanied by one of his acquaintances in the area near the municipality building, killing him instantly and seriously injuring the other,” the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported.
Al-Atma was taken to the Al-Sanamayn Military Hospital, where it was revealed he was shot in the chest and head in what was likely to be a targeted killing.
On 17 March, the head of Jasem City Council, Tayasir al-Uqlah, was also shot dead by unknown gunmen in Deraa, while on 28 February, Syrian security officer Maher al-Wassouf was assassinated on the Damascus-Deraa highway.
Al-Wassouf was in charge of the strategic Jaber-Nassif border crossing which links Syria to Jordan.
In February alone, at least five other Syrian military officials and civilian leaders were victims of targeted killings in the southwestern region, some of whom supported the peace and reconciliation agreements brokered by Russia between the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and armed rebel groups in the city.
The agreements, reached on 7 September of last year, after weeks of intense fighting in Deraa, led to the reopening of the Jaber-Nassif border crossing, coinciding with the thawing of relations between Syria and Jordan.
But just a month later, on 12 November, unknown militants opened fire on the house of a local advocate of the truce and reconciliation agreements, Basil al-Falah, killing him and his 13-year old daughter.
At the time, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), reported that since the implementation of the agreements, 47 people had been gunned down in targeted killings.
The killings have likely been taking place in defiance of the truce agreements, which successfully brought an end to the fighting in Deraa after a majority of militants laid down their arms.
The reconciliation process, facilitated by Syria and Russia, has been successful in de-escalating tension across the country over the last year.
According to Syrian authorities, over 20,000 former combatants have taken part in the process in the governorates of Deraa, Deir Ezzor, Hasakah, and Quneitra.