Syrian Regime Takes Key Border Crossing as More Rebel Towns Surrender

EPA-EFE  YOUSSEF BADAWI

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.

Moscow has been brokering talks with rebels in southern Syria that have already seen more than 30 towns agree to fall back under regime control.

The Syrian regime on Friday reached a deal with rebels for the surrender of the remaining opposition-held cities and towns in the southern province of Daraa, the cradle of the uprising against Bashar al-Assad. He said the rebels refuse to hand over their weapons "immediately" but would do so in later stages when the displaced begin returning to their homes and Iran-backed militiamen withdraw from the area.

It also underscores America's remarkable declining role and influence in Syria.

He said Syrian and Russian jets had pummeled towns across the south-west and villages near the border crossing in the past few weeks.

A correspondent on the edge of the rebel-held south of the city of Daraa, the divided provincial capital, said the bombing was the heaviest since the launch of the Russian-backed offensive on June 19.

But the assault has created a new problem for Jordan in the shape of tens of thousands of civilians who have fled intensive aerial bombardment of their towns and moved towards the border. Dozens have been killed.

Securing it will be a big victory for the Syrian army both symbolically and militarily as the rebels have used the Jordanian border to bring in arms and fighters throughout the war. A soldier could be seen hoisting the Syrian flag atop a watchtower.

But the rebels' flags seem to have started fading away as the rebels are no longer there, and the Nasib crossing, the only official border crossing between Syria and Jordan, is back under the government's control.

The Jewish state worries that Iranian revolutionary guards could follow Assad's forces into the border region. On Twitter, Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said Amman was holding talks with all parties to the Syrian crisis focused on ensuring the return of the displaced.

He said there were concerns about the safety of the displaced Syrians returning home.


The rebels accused Washington of betraying the opposition fighters after worldwide community bowed to Russian pressure.

Recovering the frontier with the Golan Heights is also important to Assad, reestablishing his status as a frontline leader in the conflict with Israel, which sent reinforcements to the Golan frontier on Sunday. The claim could not be independently verified.

"A hundred buses were supposed to arrive but [the operation] has been postponed to a later date", the rebel spokesman said. The Institute for the Study of War in Washington expects President Putin to seek to tempt Trump into following through on that wish - and says the Russian-Iranian coalition "is building a network of deniable proxy forces to attack the USA and its local partner - the Syrian Democratic Forces - in Eastern Syria".

US -backed and Kurdish-led forces seized the town from the Islamic State group in 2016, but Turkey views the Kurdish fighters as terrorists due to their links to insurgents across the border and has demanded they withdraw.

Fighters opposed to the deal will now be given safe passage to rebel-held areas in northern Syria.

The presence of Russian military police is key to the agreement and the assurances given to rebels and civilians. The crushing new wave of attacks appears to have compelled the rebels to accept the deal.

"Most are living in dire and insecure conditions, including some 60,000 people camped at the Nasib/Jaber border crossing with Jordan", Grandi said. The 70-year-old, identifying himself only as Abu Mohammed, said Syrian troops were now heading for the border.

President Trump said in April he'd like to bring home United States troops supporting the SDF very soon.

In the area close to the occupied Golan Heights, Israel has been delivering some aid across the border.

Assad's forces, he added bitterly, will now take over the crossing points with Jordan "so (Jordan's) economic interest will resume at our expense".

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