Published: Sat, July 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Syrian regime prepares to raise flag over rebel-held Daraa city

Syrian regime prepares to raise flag over rebel-held Daraa city

The past three years have seen a steady succession of victories by Assad's government and his Russian, Iranian and militia allies.

State television said the army hoisted the flag near the post office on Thursday, the only government building in the portion of the city that had been held by rebels since the early days of the uprising that began there in 2011 with large protests.

The mosque has since been destroyed in the government's brutal crackdown against the city, which ranged from alleged torturing of dissidents to shelling the city with tanks and planes.

The air strikes were concentrated on the air defense battalion east of "Naima" village, and the town of Saida as dozens of militants were spotted fleeing the their postilions towards the Jordanian border.

The corner of south-west Syria is an important corridor for trade between Syria and Jordan, and onward to the oil-rich Gulf states.

Some 400,000 people have been killed in seven years of war.

This was symbolic as more than just the recovery of the last rebel-held city in the south. Deraa was one of the birthplaces of the rebellion, and the site of numerous early protests and revolts that started the protracted Syrian War.

That deal come after a ceasefire announced last week stemmed almost three weeks of regime bombardment on the symbolic wider province of the same name, which borders Jordan.

President Bashar al-Assad's regime has retaken more than 60 percent of the country since 2015, when Russian Federation intervened militarily to bolster it.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has been monitoring the war, said rebels were still in the city, but on Thursday their departure appeared to be merely a matter of time.

Measures to implement the so-called reconciliation deal for rebel-held parts of the city had not yet been implemented, it said.

At least "14 regime and opposition fighters who recently reconciled were killed in a suicide auto bomb attack targeting a military position in Zaizun", said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman, giving an updated toll.

The surrender deal mirrors that in other parts of Syria: the handover of heavy weapons and forced displacement of those who oppose the agreement to the country's northern territories, which are controlled either by rebel groups or proxies of Turkey.

The regime now controls more than 80 percent of Daraa province, the Observatory says, though some parts of its western countryside remain under opposition control.

Previous such deals have seen thousands of rebels bused up to areas still under opposition control in the north of the country.

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