wnol.info July 16 2018

Waves of strikes pound south Syria after talks fail

July 16 2018, 04:22 | Irvin Gilbert

Syrian troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad take Jordan crossing, rebels say ceasefire agreed

Syrian forces reach Jordanian border crossing as rebels negotiate surrender

Over 350,000 people have fled Syria's southwestern city of Daraa to border areas near Jordan and Israel due to attacks by Syrian regime forces and their allies, according to civil defense sources on Friday.

As many as 60,000 displaced Syrians who had gathered at the Naseeb crossing returned to their homes in Daraa's eastern countryside over the weekend, the UK-based, pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported.

"An agreement has been reached between the Syrian government and the terrorist groups" that includes "the handover of heavy and medium weapons in all cities and towns", the official SANA news agency said.

The offices of the Syrian border control and customs were largely damaged.

It has also been agreed to resume the work of Syrian government bodies on the territories controlled by armed groups, and on the return of Syrian refugees to their homes from the Jordanian border.

Last week, rebel forces from Busra a-Sham-notably Shabab a-Sunnah, led by commander Ahmad al-Awdeh-were among the first to formally agree to a reconciliation deal with the government.

Near the start of the government's offensive, Washington indicated it would respond to violations of that deal, but it has not done so yet and rebels said it told them to expect no American military help.

Rebel territory in southern Syria was already included in a ceasefire agreed a year ago between Washington, Amman, and Moscow, but that did little to halt the regime's attack.

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The UN has repeatedly pointed out that there are numerous reasons for refugees to remain outside the country and as such will not work to return Syrians to their country although it would assist those who wish to go.

Under the deal, Russian military police will take the border crossings, and will guarantee the return of displaced civilians and rebels who want to end their opposition to government rule.

The Israeli army said it launched strikes after Syrian mortar fire struck near Israel's security fence, "part of the internal fighting between the regime and the rebels in Syria", it said, without giving details on the retaliation.

As Assad seeks victory, there seems little hope of a negotiated peace, with six million Syrian refugees overseas and 6.5 million more internally displaced.

It caps a series of government victories nationwide since Russian Federation intervened in 2015 on Assad's side, including for the former rebel bastion of Eastern Ghouta outside Damascus earlier this year.

The regime's next target in the southern offensive appears to be the parts of nearby Quneitra province in opposition hands at the Golan frontier.

USA forces have backed rebels fighting Assad's government during the civil war.

Rebel sources said Russian Federation would guarantee the safe return of civilians who fled the government offensive in the biggest exodus of the war, with 320,000 people uprooted.

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