Syria war: Thousands return home in south-west

Tuesday, 10 Jul, 2018

Syrian state media and a war monitor say government forces have captured new areas along the border with Jordan and are on the verge of reaching a main crossing between the two countries.

Nearly all displaced Syrians at the Nassib-Jaber crossing have left the Jordanian border and returned to Syria, Anders Pedersen, the United Nations resident and humanitarian coordinator in Jordan, said on Sunday, Reuters reported.

The rebel-held area in southern Syria was included in a cease-fire zone established past year in a deal between Washington, Amman, and Moscow, but that did little to halt the government's assault.

Jordanian border crossing, Jaber is seen in the city of Mafraq, Jordan July 7, 2018. "In a major step toward fulfilling Tehran's long-term goals, the presence of Syrian forces would serve as a conduit for Hezbollah and other militias to quietly redeploy in the south anytime they like, without having to deal with opposition pockets".

Although local communities in Syria have opened their doors to take in numerous displaced, most are forced to live in open spaces or in makeshift shelters that offer little safety and protection from the elements, he added.

Russian Federation has been at the forefront of the Deraa campaign, both bombing and negotiating with rebels who were told at the start of the offensive to expect no help from the United States.

The military's next target in the southern offensive appears to be the parts of nearby Quneitra province in rebel hands at the Golan frontier.

The Jordanian borders have been closed since 2015, and a Syrian military officer said the decision to reopen the crossing is a political one between both countries.

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A Syrian opposition flag is erected at the Syrian-Jordanian border at the Nasib crossing in Deraa province, Syria August 27, 2017.

An exit route for those who wish to relocate to Idlib will also be opened as part of the agreement, keeping with the terms of previous deals between the government and rebels.

But those talks collapsed on Wednesday because of Russia's tough demands, rebels said, ushering in a blitz of air strikes, barrel bombs and missiles.

Ibrahim Jabbawi, another spokesman for the rebels' southern operations, confirmed the agreement on a ceasefire, the surrender of heavy weapons, and the rebel handover of the frontier road with Jordan.

Earlier, rebel fire on a regime convoy travelling near Um al-Mayazin on the highway from the border had killed several soldiers, Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said, without providing a toll.

Most of the hospitals had shut down amid the destruction in insurgent territory, which now barely had access to water or electricity, he said.

AMMAN, Jordan-It was little more than three years ago when rebels stormed the Nassib border crossing on Syria's southern border with Jordan.

Before Syria's brutal conflict started in 2011, hundreds of trucks made the crossing daily, carrying goods from the country into Jordan.