Assad's forces expand control in Daraa as 'rebels agree to surrender'

Blanche Robertson
July 12, 2018

Syrian government forces declared a decisive and symbolic victory in the ongoing civil war on Thursday, as Bashar al-Assad's troops raised the national flag in Daraa city - the birthplace of the 2011 revolution.

Measures to implement the so-called reconciliation deal for rebel-held parts of the city had not yet been implemented, it said.

Government forces backed by Russian air strikes have recovered swathes of southern Deraa province in the last three weeks, advancing unopposed by Assad's western and regional foes into the strategically vital region near Jordan and Israel.

But the offensive, backed by Russian Federation, months after a brutal assault on the region around Damascus known as eastern Ghouta that killed 2,000 people and involved the use of chemical weapons, prompted the flight of more than a quarter of a million civilians from the area in one of the largest single displacements in the conflict.

The campaign in the southwest is now expected to target rebel-held enclaves at the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

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This was part of a deal between the government and the rebels in the towns of Samlin, Kafar Shams, Kafar Nasej and Akraba, the report said.

Overnight into Thursday, the extremists took control of the village of Heet near the Jordanian border, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in the western countryside of Deraa province, Syria on Tuesday. "The government is expected to launch an operation to capture this area", she added.

"There is a guarantee by the Russians that the army will not enter Daraa al-Balad", said Abu Bayan, a leader of a rebel faction in the city, referring to the name of the area.

Idlib province, the last major rebel stronghold, is included in a "de-escalation" agreement negotiated by Russian Federation and Iran, which support the government, and Turkey, which backs the opposition and has deployed a dozen observation points in the province.

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