Putin Says He Agreed With Trump to Secure Syria Border With Israel

Clay Curtis
July 17, 2018

The regime now controls Daraa and its eastern outskirts, while its forces have been deployed along most of Syria's border with Jordan, in line with an earlier agreement between Russian Federation and Syrian armed opposition groups.

The United Nations said last week up to 160,000 Syrians had fled to Quneitra province, some in close proximity to the Golan area.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and rebels said jets, which they believed to be Russian, bombed an opposition-held village in Quneitra province in the first such aerial strike in around a year.

President Bashar al-Assad's forces have advanced in Daraa thanks to a deadly bombardment campaign since 19 June, along with Russia-brokered deals between opposition fighters and the government.

Rebels began handing over their heavy weapons on Saturday and continued to do so on Sunday morning.

A rebel official, Abu Shaima, said at least 500 fighters were going to get on around 15 buses and that his bus was already on the road north to opposition-held Idlib province.

The monitor said an estimated 1,400 people were expected to be evacuated on Sunday.

The government's push came after it had secured control of most of Daraa province in an offensive that began in June.

Syrian state television confirmed the transfers had begun, broadcasting images of white buses they said were carrying the fighters, their blue curtains drawn, surrounded by military forces.

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The so-called "reconciliation" deal for Deraa city is the latest in a string of such agreements the regime has used to retake large parts of the country.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent said that a humanitarian aid convoy reached government-held parts of southwest Syria.

"Around 800 missiles and shells have been fired against several areas in the province and fierce fighting continues on the ground between regime forces and rebels", the chief of the Britain based monitor said.

The Daraa onslaught took less than three weeks to break the rebels' grip, with the regime now in control of more than four-fifths of that province's territory, the Observatory said. For the past six years it has been buttressed on the Syrian side by rebels and hardline jihadist groups, including Islamic State.

The government troops have scored remarkable advance in northwest Daraa province, liberating key mountaintop that overlooking the occupied Golan Heights.

Israel has been on high alert in recent days as Syrian government forces advance against foreign-backed terrorists near the Golan Heights.

Mr Abdel Rahman said that unlike in Deraa, fighter planes had not been used in the Quneitra offensive and that Russian Federation was not yet taking part.

Russia has agreed with the U.S. to secure Israel's Golan Heights frontier with Syria, a line set in 1974 at the end of their last war, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

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