South Syrian rebels agree on surrender deal, Assad takes crossing

Cheryl Sanders
July 7, 2018

Ibrahim Jabawi, spokesman for the rebels' joint operations room, said they had reached an agreement with the Russians in which insurgents would begin to hand over some of their heavy weapons in return for a government pullout from several villages.

The commander in the regional alliance that backs Damascus told Reuters the strike on a hill in Khan Arnabeh village in Quneitra province did not cause casualties.

"The Russian deal is similar to the others in areas of Aleppo or Ghouta". It says the fighting has uprooted more than 320,000 people, with 60,000 gathered at the Jordan border crossing and thousands more at the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan heights.

The U.N. refugee agency has urged Jordan to open its borders to the fleeing Syrians. Rebels have walked away from negotiations in the past if they deem the terms too tough.

Regime troops reached the main border crossing with Jordan on Friday and raised the Syrian flag, state media said.

Civilians and rebels in the south may be easily captured by government forces in the future "without protection or witnesses", he explained.

Within 24 hours of the resumed bombing, rebels said they wanted to return to negotiations, with the talks focusing on their pullout from the territory they still control in Daraa's western countryside and the southern half of the provincial capital.

The Observatory said an armed group that had controlled some border villages had handed over control to the advancing government forces without putting up resistance.

"In the largest wave of displacement to hit southern Syria since the start of the seven-year-long war, an estimated 180,000 children have been forced to flee their homes with little resource for protection, shelter or assistance", UNICEF said.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies are fighting to recapture the southwest, one of the last remaining rebel strongholds in Syria along with a region of the northwest bordering Turkey.

Fighters who reject the agreement will be evacuated with their families to the rebel-held northwestern province of Idlib, it added.

Hussein Abazeed, spokesman for the south's joint rebel command, accused Russian Federation of pursuing a "scorched-earth policy" to force rebels back to the negotiating table.

The deal, mediated by Russian Federation, will restore state sovereignty over rebel-held areas in Daraa province following a fierce government offensive.

Southwest Syria was declared a de-escalation zone a year ago by Russia, Jordan and the United States.

"Cars carrying Russian military police and representatives of the Syrian government's border administration entered the Nassib crossing without a fight" said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

On Thursday, the United Nations Security Council convened in an urgent closed-door meeting to discuss the south, but Russian Federation blocked the council from adopting a statement.

Other reports by iNewsToday