Syrian govt., rebels reach ceasefire deal

EPA-EFE  YOUSSEF BADAWI

Syrian soldiers fanned out across towns and villages in southern Syria Saturday, celebrating the recapture of the main border crossing with Jordan by raising portraits of President Bashar Assad and tearing down rebel flags.

It came after a crushing government offensive that began June 19 to retake southern Daraa province and the nearby Quneitra region that borders the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Jordanian journalist Suha Ma-ayeh quoted a Syrian woman stranded at the Jordan-Syria border, saying she wasn't interested in supplies and aid being sent through from Jordan.

He said that while the United Nations and partners are doing what they can to deliver life-saving aid to the people of south-west Syria - both from within the country and across the Jordanian border - the security situation is hindering efforts to reach many people in dire need.

Israel's military says it has struck a Syrian target after a shell launched from there landed inside the buffer zone at the border.

Twenty-four hours into the onslaught, rebels said they were willing to return to negotiations.

The offices of the Syrian border control and customs were largely damaged.

Numerous civilians stranded along the border with Jordan are frightened of retribution by the regime, which captured the main crossing at Naseeb on Friday.

Syrian government forces, backed by Russian Federation, deployed at the Nassib crossing a day earlier, seizing a vital trade route that insurgents held for three years.

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Last week, rebel forces from Busra a-Sham-notably Shabab a-Sunnah, led by commander Ahmad al-Awdeh-were among the first to formally agree to a reconciliation deal with the government.

Rebels who comply with the deal will be allowed to remain in Daraa.

Under the deal, Russian military police will take the border crossings, and will guarantee the return of displaced civilians and rebels who want to end their opposition to government rule.

Since Russia intervened on Mr Assad's side in Syria's conflict in 2015, the Damascus regime has notched up a series of victories against rebels and jihadists in the country.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said some 60,000 Syrians have returned to their homes, while thousands of others fled to another area, also adding that they feared detention by government forces or being drafted to the military.

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.

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

"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.

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