Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Syria rebels reject Russian Federation conditions for surrender in Daraa

UN Warns of Humanitarian Catastrophe if Fighting Escalates in Daraa, Syria Syrian forces press offensive in south as rebels consider truce terms and civilians flee
Glenn Montgomery | 04 July, 2018, 01:47

"With regards to southern Syria, we will continue to defend our borders, we will extend humanitarian assistance as much as we can, [but] we will not allow entry to our territory", Netanyahu said.

"In Syria's southwestern provinces of Daraa and Quneitra that were declared as de-escalation zones by a memorandum signed in Astana, hundreds of innocent people have been assassinated in the Syrian regime's attacks targeting civilians", Aksoy said in a statement on Friday.

Discussions on Sunday were hard, said diplomatic sources familiar with the talks.

Damascus' suburb of Eastern Ghouta was the focus of heavy bombardment by the regime's forces in April.

Airstrikes pounded rebel-held areas in southwestern Syria on Thursday, killing at least 17 civilians in an underground shelter and driving thousands from their homes, as scores of displaced people protested near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, demanding global protection.

The U.N. refugee agency said the number of displaced people in southern Syria had more than tripled to 160,000 in the latest fighting.

The decision to strengthen its defenses in the area was taken after the Syrian Army had escalated its fight against militants as part of an ongoing aerial and ground-based anti-terrorist operation launched close to the border with Jordan and Israel.

After talks with Moscow, a wave of rebel areas in the south agreed in recent days to a government takeover in exchange for an end to almost two weeks of ferocious air strikes and barrel bombing.

"We are waiting for God to help us, for tents, blankets, mattresses, aid for our children to eat and drink".

On Saturday at least ten civilians were killed when bombs were dropped on the rebel-held village of Ghasam, relief workers said.

"The real concern is that we are going to see a repetition of what we saw in eastern Ghouta - the bloodshed, the suffering, the civilians being held, being under a siege", United Nations human rights spokeswoman Liz Throssell said.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad Al Hussein warned of a humanitarian catastrophe in Deraa and urged neighbouring countries to provide safe passage to those wishing to flee the violence.

Opposition negotiators and a spokesman said a six-member civilian and military committee of the southern rebels held a preliminary meeting along the administrative borders of neighbouring Sweida province.

The war has been going Assad's way since Russian Federation intervened on his side in 2015, when he held just a fraction of the country.

The southwest was an early hotbed of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad and defeat there would leave rebels with just one remaining stronghold - the area around Idlib province bordering Turkey in the northwest. Last week, rebels said the United States had told them not to expect any American military support.

The Syrian government pressed ahead with its offensive to reclaim the strategic region that extends along the border with Jordan and the Golan Heights, and which was until recently part of a USA -backed and negotiated truce.

In a video posted to pro-opposition social media accounts on Sunday evening, rebel fighters from Shabab a-Sunnah appear to surrender a tank and an armored vehicle to pro-government forces in Busra a-Sham-reportedly as the first step in a reconciliation deal that would see Daraa's eastern countryside return to government control for the first time since 2012.

Mr Safadi also said he would hold talks with his Russian counterpart in Moscow on Tuesday, which he hoped would "take us more steps forward to contain this crisis and prevent more destruction".

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