Published: Thu, July 19, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Displaced Syrians march close to Israel; airstrike kills 10

Displaced Syrians march close to Israel; airstrike kills 10

Syrian regime forces on Monday announced the capture of the southern city of Daraa before advancing westward towards the border with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights region.

A Syrian army source quoted by state media said the army had made territorial gains in Quneitra province where it seized the town of Mashara, about 11 km (7 miles) from the Golan frontier.

Russian-backed Syrian troops now hold more than 80 percent of Daraa province but scored fresh gains Monday against remaining opposition forces in its western countryside and in neighboring Quneitra.

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

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Regime television also reported the transfers, broadcasting images of white buses they said were carrying the fighters, their blue curtains drawn, surrounded by military forces.

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

For almost one month, Syria's government has worked to capture the provinces of Daraa and Quneitra with a mix of heavy bombardment, ground attacks and surrender deals brokered by Moscow. According to Israel's Ynet news site, a group calling itself the "incendiary balloons and kites unit" has issued a statement refuting the Al Quds report.

In Daraa, the deal will hand over areas that have been held by the rebels for years back to government control.

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"Syrian regime forces captured the town of Al-Hara, as well as Samlin, Al-Tiha and Zimrin", said observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.

Reuters news agency said it obtained a document of what a rebel source purports to be the final agreement - which includes a provision for Russian military police to accompany two Syrian army brigades into a demilitarised zone agreed to with Israel in 1973 along the occupied Golan Heights.

They usually follow ferocious military campaigns and sometimes stifling sieges that effectively force rebels to surrender.

The clashes killed 20 regime forces and 17 rebels and allied jihadists, the monitor said.

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On Sunday, several hundred rebels and civilians were bussed from Daraa city to opposition-held Idlib in the northwest, paving the way for it to return fully to the government fold. The offensive had displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

The government offensive has displaced more than 230,000 people, many of them on the run in the open.

Trump announced in April that he was going to withdraw American forces from Syria, saying their declared mission had come to an end after the defeat of the ISIS terror group. Israel's Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman stated last month that, "We are closely monitoring events in southern Syria".

Russian Federation is supporting Assad's forces in its military campaigns around Syria.

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A US intelligence report viewed by American media, however, said Putin was expected to ask Trump to deliver on his promise and indeed pull out of Syria.

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