With Assad on march, Syria rebels say cease fire agreed

With Assad on march, Syria rebels say cease fire agreed

Syrian government forces launched a wide offensive on June 19 to retake Daraa and the nearby Quneitra region that borders the Israeli Golan Heights.

Shortly afterwards, an Al Jazeera reporter on the ground saw a convoy of about 10 army trucks with Russian and Syrian flags entering the strategically important Nassib border crossing, held by the rebels for three years.

"Jordan succeeded in bringing the Russians and representatives of the Syrian opposition back to the negotiating table", al-Duwairi told Al Jazeera on Friday.

The agreement to end violence in southern Syria and surrender the crossing point with Jordan comes after rebels rejected a deal with the Russians earlier this week.

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"They were stubborn and didn't show any goodwill towards the negotiations", he said to MEE.

After retaking large parts of the country since Russian Federation intervened in Syria in 2015, regime forces have set their sights on the southern provinces of Daraa and Quneitra, bordering Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Hussein Abazeed, spokesman for the south's joint rebel command, accused Russian Federation of pursuing a "scorched-earth policy" to force rebels back to the negotiating table.

Moscow has been brokering talks with rebel towns for negotiated surrenders in a carrot-and-stick strategy that Russian Federation and the regime have used to retake swathes of territory including the Eastern Ghouta region near Damascus earlier this year.

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Russia, which has been brokering talks with militants in southern, started a new round of talks with militants in southern Syria on Wednesday in an effort to make them hand back the areas they control to the Damascus government without fighting as the national army pushes ahead with a liberation operation there.

It echoes the terms of previous opposition surrenders, but according to rebel sources, they also secured a concession that some government forces would withdraw from the area.

Daraa is considered the cradle of the 2011 uprising against President Assad's rule, when brutal repression by regime forces triggered Syria's devastating civil war.

Moscow also reportedly has refused rebel requests for safe passage to opposition-held territory in other parts of Syria, as was granted to rebels who agreed to pull out of Eastern Ghouta and Aleppo.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 159 civilians had been killed since the offensive began two weeks ago, including 33 children.

Assad's next target in the southwest appears to be rebel-held areas of Quneitra province at the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, where fighting between insurgents and the government escalated on Friday.

But both Israel and Jordan have kept their borders closed, despite mounting calls to let Syrians escape to safety.

The UN Security Council will hold a closed-door emergency meeting on the offensive on Thursday.

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