The MOC’s Role in the Collapse of the Southern Opposition

The southern fronts in Syria have come to near standstill: the opposition’s dream to topple Damascus is unachievable, while factions in Daraa and Damascus fight amongst themselves. How did this happen when there were such high hopes of victory for factions in the south, especially after they united under an umbrella group called the Southern Front? The Military Operations Center (MOC), which supports the Southern Front, played a significant role in this collapse. The MOC operates under the supervision of several regional and international powers active in Syria. It is headquartered in Amman, and has a sister operations center in Turkey, known by its Turkish initials MOM.

The MOC was founded in the second half of 2013, but only began to develop in 2014. Prior to that, most countries that are now party to the MOC were providing aid to the opposition in southern Syria independently, operating from neighboring countries since the last quarter of 2011. Within Syria, most opposition factions in southern Syria had been working under a semi-organized framework, through loose military councils in cities and provinces. On February 14, 2014 the Southern Front was created, and putting factions under a new name and organizational structure. Regions nearby were the more organized and controlled than many others in Syria. Most factions in the Southern Front were from the Free Syrian Army, or what was left of it. While estimates of the Southern Front’s numbers differ, it likely contained about 30,000 fighters. According to local sources, the MOC’s role and influence have grown since the Southern Front was established.

The Southern Front rebel groups have gone from fighting the regime to in-fighting and battles to eliminate one another. The shift came after Russia directly intervened in the Syrian war. “Russia and Jordan’s armies agreed to coordinate military operations in Syria through working mechanisms in Amman,” Sergey Lavrov was quoted as saying to Jordanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Judeh, in October 2015. Judeh confirmed this, saying, “There are deep channels of coordination between Jordan and Russia on Syria.”

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