Syrian rebels agree surrender deal with regime

Syrian army soldiers gesture as they pose for

Syrian government soldiers took control of "all of the Free Syrian Army (FSA)-controlled border zone" on Sunday evening, one southern rebel commander told Syria Direct on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the the press.

The Russia-backed government offensive in Daraa has displaced more than 320,000 people since 19 June, according to the United Nations, including tens of thousands who fled south to the sealed border with Jordan.

Nabaa Media, an opposition activist collective, said the latest government assault on the area killed several people in the previous 24 hours including a woman and her four children in a rebel-held village in Daraa.

State-run news agency SANA said the army deployed at the crossing after combing and clearing it of the remnants of "terrorist groups".

Both Jordan and Israel had refused to let the refugees in, though they did allow aid to be delivered.

Jordanian border crossing, Jaber is seen in the city of Mafraq, Jordan July 7, 2018.

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The Syrian army reached Nasib crossing on Friday for the first time after losing it to the rebels in 2015.

Near the start of the government's offensive, Washington indicated it would respond to violations of that deal, but it has not done so yet and rebels said it told them to expect no American military help.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based war monitor, said at least 28,000 people had returned in the past day to towns in eastern Deraa covered under the truce deal.

A state television correspondent said the rebels had agreed to hand over heavy and medium weapons in all the towns and cities included in the surrender deal.

The talks this week focused on remaining rebel territory in Daraa province's western countryside and the southern half of the provincial capital.

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

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"The solution is political and the protection of civilians, preventing their displacement and saving the (Syrian) brothers more suffering is everyone's responsibility", he wrote.

Assad's next target in the southwest appears to be rebel-held areas of Quneitra province at the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, where fighting between insurgents and the government escalated on Friday.

It is also one of the main concessions gained by neighbouring Jordan, which is fearful that Shia militias fighting alongside government forces will gain control of the area on its northern border.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) on Thursday warned that 320,000 people have been displaced by increased hostilities in southwest Syria while another 750,000 risk being caught in the crossfire.

"As for the notion that Assad will push Iran out after achieving victory, the return of his forces to the south means just the opposite", Ghaddar and Smyth wrote.

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