As part of the Syrian government's campaign to retake southern Syria in its entirety, Suhail al-Hassan's Tiger Forces, affiliated with the air intelligence, have emerged as a leading participant in the campaign, focusing on the east Deraa countryside front. One of the Tiger Forces units involved in the southern campaign is the Taha Regiment. This group is more fully known as "Taha Regiment- Assault," indicating its role as an assault force for the Tiger Forces. I conducted an interview with a media representative for the Taha Regiment regarding the group and the situation in the south. The interview was conducted overnight on 6-7 July 2018. The transcript is below, with any insertions for clarity in square brackets.
Taha Regiment members at the Nasib border crossing with Jordan.
Q: Firstly can you tell me a little about the regiment? What is the date of its establishment and in which battles has the regiment participated until now?
A: The date of its establishment is 2014. It has participated in the battles of Palmyra, al-Sukhna, Aleppo and its countryside entirely along with the city of Aleppo, Raqqa countryside, al-Risafa, Deir az-Zor, al-Mayadeen, Albukamal, Homs, Hama and Hama countryside, Idlib countryside, Ghouta and now Deraa.
Q: Yes. From where does the name of the Taha Regiment come? And you were with the Tiger Forces from the beginning?
A: Of course from the beginning with the Tiger. The name of the regiment is the leader of the formation whose name is Ali Taha. The number [of fighters of] the regiment is 2500 fighters. 1100 assault fighters with the Tiger: the remainder hold ground for the al-Ghab area, the front of Qal'at al-Mudiq.
Q: Yes. May I ask how many martyrs does the regiment have until now?
A: The number is reckoned at around 300 martyrs and 200 wounded.
Q: Can you explain the current military situation in Deraa?
A: The situation is currently excellent.
Q: Has an agreement been reached with the insurgents of Deraa regarding the return of the Syrian state?
A: After breaking the strong defence of the insurgents, which was confined between Basr al-Harir and al-Lajat, you can say that they have subjected themselves to the demands of the state. Now the agreement is ratified, but there is nothing [on the ground] till now. There are villages that accepted negotiation with the state and handed over their weapons and there are some of the villages that rejected, and the military response was ready, like Sayda, Nahta, al-Kahil, al-Nu'aimiya and al-Karak.
Q: These villages reached agreements or rejected reconciliation?
A: They rejected it.
Q: All of them, even al-Karak al-Sharqi? For I thought that the mukhtar of the locality was working for a reconciliation.
A: [Yes], he was. In the village of Jabib, after the reconciliation, there was betrayal by the village, and a great number of martyrs and officers were martyred.
Q: The exact number of martyrs is known?
A: It is better I do not give you the entire number.
Q: Yes, better.
A: But you can assess it in those terms.
Q: It is true that the Syrian army has reached the Nasib crossing?
Q: Generally how were the battles? Fierce battles or generally the insurgents withdraw without fighting?
A: There were very intense battles with strong fortification by the insurgents through bunkers and covers.
Q: Yes. And the battles are still intense?
A: Yes [they have still been] intense with [the] equipment [they have]: missiles, artillery, tanks.
Q: Yes. In addition to the Tiger Forces, what are the main formations participating in the liberation of the south from the insurgents?
A: Only we [the Tiger Forces] for liberation. But there are army battalions that hold ground after the advance.
Q: Yes, but there are also the Republican Guard, the al-Bustan Association, and some formations of the Islamic Resistance like Hezbollah right?
A: But [that is] from another front, from the front of Da'el and Ibta'.
Q: You mean that from the Da'el and Ibta' front, there is the Republican Guard for example, while you are on the east Deraa countryside front.
Q: Yes. The Russian role in the operations in the south is very important?
A: Of course. We cannot deny this. They have the biggest role in reconciliation.
Q: And the air raids on the insurgents' positions.
A: Of course.
Q: Is it expected that the Russian military police will deploy in the liberated localities in Deraa countryside?
A: By God I don't have knowledge of this thing.
Q: It's fine. But generally we can say that the Russian role in the south is bigger than the role of the other allies like Iran?
A: You can say that.