Syrian forces reach Jordanian border crossing as rebels negotiate surrender

10 July, 2018, 00:38 | Author: Kim Reid
  • Su-25 fighter jet pilots who took part in the Russian mission in Syria walk on the runway after landing at a military airport in Krasnodar Region Russia

South Syrian rebels said they had agreed to lay down arms in a Russian-brokered deal that appeared to surrender Deraa province to the government in another major victory for President Bashar al-Assad and his alliance with Russia.

So now after the Nasib crossing is back under the government's control, expectations are high that both governments could work to reopen it on both sides despite the fact that the Syrian government blames Amman for supporting the ultra-radical rebels in Daraa during the seven-year-long war in Syria.

Anders Pedersen, the top United Nations humanitarian co-ordinator in Jordan, told reporters Sunday that just 150 to 200 Syrians remained near a key crossing point into Jordan, adding that as "far as we understand they are nearly exclusively men".

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi held talks on Wednesday in Moscow, where he warned a humanitarian crisis threatened to unfold on the border and said a ceasefire was urgently needed.

Hours earlier, opposition fighters battling a fierce government-led offensive in southern Syria's Deraa province had reached an agreement with negotiators from Russian Federation, a major ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The UN's refugee agency says that around 60,000 Syrians have gathered near the border.

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.

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"The military incursion into Um al-Mayazin came after opposition fighters there rejected the agreement", Mr Abdel Rahman said.

More than 150 civilians have been killed in the regime bombing campaign on Daraa since June 19, the Observatory says.

Other than the war of flags at the crossing, soldiers there seemed happy and relaxed, as the progress made in Daraa is of great importance to the Syrian government.

The talks resumed at around midday on Friday in the town of Busra al-Sham, freshly recaptured by government troops.

Twenty-four hours into the onslaught, rebels said they were willing to return to negotiations.

All areas along the Syrian-Jordanian border will be under the direct control of Syrian government forces, SANA reported.

They said Russian Federation had insisted opposition factions hand over their heavy weapons in one go, while rebels wanted to do so in several phases.

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"Our comrades are taking part in planning and in directing operations", said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

A Daesh militant group affiliate, which holds a small pocket in the southwest of Daraa, is excluded from the deal.

CARE said that "waves of people have moved to western Daraa" and Quneitra, as the government troops seized control of areas in the southeast of the country.

However, Mr Assad set his sights on retaking them after defeating rebels in the Eastern Ghouta region outside the capital Damascus in April.

"The rebels, by leaving Daraa, would be losing one of their last strongholds in Syria", he added.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) on Thursday warned that 320,000 people have been displaced by increased hostilities in southwest Syria while another 750,000 risk being caught in the crossfire.

The people who left their towns and cities in Daraa will return to their homes, according to the deal.

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