Syrian troops celebrate after claiming key post on Jordan border

10 July, 2018, 00:33 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
  • Smoke rises in Deraa area Syria in this handout released

The UN humanitarian coordinator in Jordan, Anders Pederson, said most of the displaced along the Jordanian border had headed back inside Syria.

The talks in the southwestern province of Deraa, bordering with Jordan, started several days ago following a successful two-week offensive by the Syrian army, which was backed by Russian Federation.

"I commend Jordan for generously providing protection to hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees since the beginning of the crisis and for providing and facilitating assistance to those in need inside Syria", he said.

The regime assault on rebel-held areas in Daraa since June 19 had killed more than 160 civilians, the Observatory says.

The Jordanian borders have been closed since 2015, and a Syrian military officer said the decision to reopen the crossing is a political one between both countries.

Jordan and Israel have both said they would not let refugees in.

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Many are now returning after a recent deal between the army and rebels.

A Syrian man on the Syrian side of the border said he and his family had been camped out near the Jordanian border for 10 days after fleeing the bombardment and airstrikes.

The deal also provides for government forces to take over "all observation posts along the Syrian-Jordanian border", it said, hours after the regime regained control of the vital Nassib border crossing with Jordan.

The military said the shell was spillover fire from fighting between the Syrian government and rebel forces.

The deal will take place in phases across Daraa, but there is no timeline yet, an opposition official said.

Tense talks focused on the fate of Daraa city and its western countryside dragged late into Friday, said rebel spokesman Abazeed.

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On the opposition side, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the government has become in control over 72.4 percent of Daraa while the rebels' control has shrunk to 21 percent, adding that a rebel group allied with the Islamic State (IS) controls 6.6 percent of Daraa.

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

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

The victory further cements a Russian-engineered turnaround for Assad, which has handed him back control over what the French once called "La Syrie utile"-the string of major cities running from Aleppo down past Damascus and the country's Mediterranean coastline".

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.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's goal is to recapture Syria's entire southwest, one of the last rebel strongholds in the country.

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Hezbollah has sent thousands of fighters to Syria since 2013 to help Assad's forces, tipping the balance of power in his favor in several areas, including along the border with Lebanon.

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