Syrian Regime Takes Key Border Crossing as More Rebel Towns Surrender

Frederick Owens
July 9, 2018

Syrian-Palestinian analyst Mustafa Al-Walie told Al-Ahram Weekly that "it is significant when Israel exonerates Iran of deploying in southern Syria and denies Iranian militias are blended with Al-Assad's forces, and then the USA suddenly annuls its commitment to de-escalation and abandons the opposition factions and Jordan closes the border to refugees".

The government's offensive to retake Daraa and the nearby Quneitra region on the frontier near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights began on June 19, and is now expected to turn more forcefully toward retaking Quneitra, potentially setting up a clash between Israel and Hezbollah and Iran unless they agree to stay away from the area as Israel demands.

Anders Pedersen, the United Nations resident and humanitarian coordinator in Jordan said on Sunday that only about 150-200 people remained there. "They are only about 150-200 people at the border in the free-trade zone", Pedersen told reporters in Jordan's capital, Amman, on Sunday.

"People have started to return to their homes since yesterday" from the Jordanian border, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.

The opposition forces have agreed to hand over the Nasib border crossing with Jordan to the Syrian regime on Saturday as part of a Russian-brokered deal.

It said the latest deaths bring to 65 the number of children reported killed in less than three weeks in southern Syria alone.

In a live broadcast from the border, regime television showed groups of soldiers flashing victory signs.

Both countries have said they will not open their borders to refugees - Jordan took in more than half a million earlier in the war - but have distributed some supplies inside Syria. A war monitor said that the regime now controls about 70 percent of Daraa province.

Clashes between both sides rocked the area between Daraa city and Um al-Mayazin.

Syrian government forces, backed by Russian Federation, deployed at the Nassib crossing a day earlier, seizing a vital trade route that insurgents held for three years.

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The Syrian government forces and terrorist groups have reportedly reached a deal for ceasefire and handing over of weapons to the army.

Ahead of the crisis, the crossing was the busiest border crossing in Syria as it is situated on the Damascus-Amman global highway near Nasib.

The presence of Turkish and USA forces in those areas will complicate further gains.

"A hundred buses were supposed to arrive but [the operation] has been postponed to a later date", the rebel spokesman said.

An Islamic State jihadist group affiliate, which holds a small pocket in the southwest of Daraa, is excluded from the deal. The rebels will disarm, but in a series of stages.

Weakened by a crushing government offensive backed by Russian Federation and abandoned by their US allies, rebels in southern Syria found themselves compelled to accept yet another humiliating surrender deal that would see opposition fighters transported by buses to areas held by rebels in the country's north.

These often come after blistering military offensives or crippling sieges, which effectively force the rebels into the so-called "reconciliation" deals.

The U.N. refugee agency says around 60,000 Syrians have gathered near the Nassib crossing.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli army did not clarify whether the targeted position was of the Syrian regime or for the opposition factions. The information would include those wanted for deserting the army or escaping conscription and military service.

Opposition sources told dpa that the deal would allow civilians to return to their villages and towns, with Moscow securing their safety and protection.

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