Leaders of armed groups of Deraa province in Syria agreed on ceasefire

Leaders of armed groups of Deraa province in Syria agreed on ceasefire

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said yesterday that the return of tens of thousands of displaced Syrians in southern Syria was the kingdom's top priority and that he had discussed "practical guarantees" with concerned parties.

The offensive has displaced around 3,20,000 people since June 19, the United Nations says.

On June 12, the Syrian regime - supported by Iranian militia groups and Russian air power - launched a wide-ranging operation aimed at capturing opposition-held parts of southern Syria.

"The regime and the Russians consider themselves to have won and are acting accordingly, advancing and applying articles of the deal however they want", rebel spokesman Hussein Abazeed said.

The border crossing had been under rebel control for more than three years.

It has also been agreed to resume the work of Syrian government bodies on the territories controlled by armed groups, and on the return of Syrian refugees to their homes from the Jordanian border.

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

More than 150 civilians have been killed in the government bombing campaign on Daraa since 19 June, the Observatory says, and trust in the government does not run high.

The intense Syrian and allied Russian air strikes on Daraa and Quneitra provinces came to a halt as rebels made their announcement, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor.

Rebels who did not wish to return under Mr Assad's rule would leave for the insurgent stronghold in north-west Syria, they said.

Rebels in east Deraa have agreed to give up arms in a Russian-brokered ceasefire deal, handing another victory to President Bashar al-Assad's state and its allies.

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

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

The negotiating sides are also in disagreement over the issue of the rebels handing over their heavy weapons with Russian Federation insisting that they give up the entirety of their arsenal in one go and rebels wanting to do so in several phases.

Daraa lies in a wider southern region that Assad aims to retake, including the neighbouring province of Quneitra to the west, which borders the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

A field commander told Reuters the army had cut off rebel supply routes by seizing two towns that overlook the highway leading to the Jordanian border.

"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.

US forces have backed rebels fighting Assad's government during the civil war.

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