Rebel-held towns in southwestern Syria surrender

02 Juillet, 2018, 11:27 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Rebel-held towns in southwestern Syria surrender

The Syrian and Russian air forces have stepped up bombing on southern Daraa province since 19 June.

According to the official Syrian news agency SANA, the toen of Al-Ghariya al-Sharqiya in the Daraa vicinity joined the surrender "reconciliation" mid-day Saturday, with its residents gathering at the entrance to the town to "welcome the Syrian Arab Army and to thank it for saving them from terrorism".

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Saturday that at least eight battered rebel-held towns in Daraa returned to regime control under Russian-brokered deals.

Israel's army has said it beefed up its forces in the occupied Golan Heights border given intensified fighting in Syria.

The campaign has put more than half the province under the control of President Bashar Al Assad's government, compared with just 30 per cent earlier, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Jordan, which borders Deraa province, has been facilitating talks between rebel factions and Moscow over a deal that would end the violence in exchange for the return of state rule there.

Amman has said it can not open its frontier to any more Syrians fleeing the seven-year conflict, but on Saturday announced it had sent aid across the border to the displaced.

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Though Israel maintains a formal policy of non-intervention with regards to the Syrian civil war, it has quietly provided war-torn Syria with humanitarian aid since June 2016 as part of its "Operation Good Neighbor", which has included treating thousands of wounded Syrians in Israeli hospitals.

"The regime wants us to hand over everything - Deraa city, the Naseeb crossing, ourselves and the heavy weapons".

Fierce battles were still ongoing around Daraa city, near the Jordanian border, where the army had repeatedly failed to capture a disused air base, rebels said. "It's inadmissible", a negotiator in the opposition-held part of Daraa city told AFP.

The recent escalation comes despite Daraa and opposition-held parts of neighboring Quneitra province being included in a so-called "de-escalation zone" agreed by Russian Federation, the United States and Jordan past year.

In Washington, a State Department official said the United States could not confirm the truce report, and the situation in southern Syria remained "grim" with Russian Federation and Syrian government forces continuing to bomb the area.

"[He] calls on all parties to respect their obligations under global humanitarian law and human rights law, protect civilians and facilitate safe, unimpeded and sustained humanitarian access".

Tens of thousands of people have fled towards the border with Jordan and thousands more to the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. He added that there are now more efforts to hold a new round of talks to avoid further violence.

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