Syria regime pounds south, rebel evacuations postponed

Syria regime pounds south, rebel evacuations postponed

Anders Pedersen, the United Nations resident and humanitarian coordinator in Jordan said on Sunday that only about 150-200 people remained there.

Syrian army soldiers burned a rebel flag Saturday after they and Russian military police took over the crucial Nassib post on the border with Jordan.

Most of the displaced had fled to Daraa's border with Jordan and to neighboring Quneitrah province near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, whipped by desert winds and temperatures as high as 110 degrees.

Once completed, this effectively ends the rebellion across southern Syria.

The regime assault on rebel-held areas in Daraa since June 19 had killed more than 160 civilians, the Observatory says.

State television footage showed giant clouds of smoke towering over fields, rooftops and a distant industrial area of Deraa city, accompanied by the sound of occasional explosions.

The crossing, a key trade route, was held by opposition groups almost for three years.

These concessions will potentially allow tens of thousands of displaced Syrians along the Jordanian border to return to their homes as many now fear being targeted by government forces.

Syrian government forces on Friday reached a vital border crossing with Jordan and raised the national flag for the first time in years, state media reported, reinstating sovereignty over a key region that potentially reopens the way for Syrian exports to Arab countries.

It's been seven months since Putin ordered a partial withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria, saying "the Russian armed forces, together with the Syrian army, have defeated the most lethal group of worldwide terrorists".

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

On Wednesday, Syrian armed opposition said that talks with Russian Federation aimed at a comprehensive ceasefire in Deraa and Quneitra in southern Syria had broken down.

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.

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

The territorial gain is the latest victory for Assad, who has scored a string of successes with the backing of Russian Federation and Iran and now dominates some 60% of the country.

Rebel territory in southern Syria was already included in a ceasefire agreed a year ago between Washington, Amman, and Moscow, but that did little to halt the regime's attack.

He said Syrian and Russian jets had pummelled towns across the southwest and villages near the border crossing.

For the anti-Assad rebels, losing the southwest will reduce their territory to a region of the northwest bordering Turkey and a patch of desert in the east where USA forces are stationed near the border with Iraq and Jordan.

The total number of people displaced by the offensive now stands at more than 320,000.

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