November 20, 2018

Syrian troops liberate town in Dara'a province

09 July 2018, 01:47 | Darnell Patrick

Syrian troops liberate town in Dara'a province

Smoke rises in Deraa area Syria in this handout released

Government-controlled Central Military Media said Friday that government forces now control most of the towns and villages on the eastern side of southern Daraa province and should capture the Naseeb border crossing within hours.

According to the United Nations, the Syrian government's southern offensive uprooted more than 320,000 people over the past two weeks, including about 60,000 who sought shelter to areas near the border with Jordan.

An exit route for those who wish to relocate to Idlib will also be opened as part of the agreement, keeping with the terms of previous deals between the government and rebels.

Recapturing it could bring renewed trade with neighbouring Jordan.

During battles in the south of Syria, neither the regime nor the Russian air force was able to eliminate Islamic State (IS) fighters positioned in specific areas.

Syria's state-run news agency, Sana, reported that the country's red, white and black flag had been raised above the Nasib crossing, a sign that for the first time since 2015, President Bashar al-Assad's forces were back in control of one of the country's economic arteries.

"As for the notion that Assad will push Iran out after achieving victory, the return of his forces to the south means just the opposite", Ghaddar and Smyth wrote.

Rebel territory in the south was included in a ceasefire brokered previous year by Russian Federation, the United States and Jordan, but that has done little to stem violence.

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According to the rebels, Moscow had previously rejected their demands for a phased surrender of their heavy weaponry and safe passage to opposition territory elsewhere for rebels and civilians who did not want to live under government rule.

A ceasefire agreement has been reached with leaders of armed groups in Syria's Deraa province, Russia's Defense Ministry has said.

The officer also stressed that Jordan stands firm on border closure decision, pointing out that "90 per cent of the Syrians stranded on the border have returned to their homes", adding that the remaining numbers are estimated at thousands and the reason for not going back is due to "their own situation with the Syrian regime".

Russian military police would deploy instead with local forces overseen by Russia also deployed, they said.

Under the deal, rebels agreed to hand over their heavy weapons. Hezbollah was helping lead the offensive but keeping a low profile, pro-Damascus sources said.

Tens of thousands of Syrians have fled the fighting in the region toward Jordan's border.

Israel seized 1,200 square kilometres (460 square miles) of the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it, in a move never recognised by the worldwide community.

Syrian troops captured the Naseeb border crossing a day earlier, after rebels announced they had reached an agreement with Russian mediators to end the violence in Daraa and surrender the crossing.

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