Syrian troops march south as United Nations warns of catastrophe

Syrian troops march south as United Nations warns of catastrophe

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Saturday that at least eight battered rebel-held towns in Daraa returned to regime control under Russian-brokered deals.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Saturday reported on the collapse of ceasefire negotiations between Russian forces and the Assad regime and the towns around Daraa, in southwestern Syria, near the border of Israel's Golan Heights, where Russian warplanes and Syrian army tanks carried out intensive raids on local civilians.

Supported by Russian airpower, Syrian regime forces on June 19 launched an offensive to retake rebel-held areas in the southern province of Daraa.

Local websites reporting news about Ramtha claimed that dozens of mortar shells have lost their way into their area since the beginning of the attack on Daraa nearly two weeks ago.

Fighting and bombardment on Sunday initially focused on the area around Tafas, northwest of Deraa, along with heavy air attacks, but later involved clashes in the area between Deraa and Bosra al-Sham, the Observatory said.

The Jordanian army began delivering humanitarian aid to thousands of displaced Syrians who took shelter near its border when major fighting broke out in southern Syria this month, a government spokeswoman said on Saturday.

They also still hold most of the border areas with the Israeli occupied Golan Heights and Jordan.

Rebels remain in control of parts of the provincial capital Deraa City, where the Syrian uprising began in 2011.

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Rebels in the villages of Umm al-Mayadeen, Naseeb, Saida and Tiba have also agreed to surrender, it said.

"The secretary general recalls that the south-west area of Syria is part of a de-escalation agreement agreed between Jordan, Russia and the United States".

Russian Federation has played a critical role in supporting Assad's two-week offensive with air power and negotiating local deals initially overseen by its military police.

Aa many as 20,000 refugees are close to areas near the Nasib border crossing with Jordan, a country that already hosts more than 650,000 registered Syrian refugees and says the actual figure is closer to 1.3 million.

Regime forces have retaken large parts of the country lost to rebels since Russian Federation intervened on its behalf in 2015.

An AFP correspondent outside Daraa city - part of which is held by rebels - said Saturday night had been quiet, with only intermittent bombing.

Since the operation started two years ago, the military says it has delivered more than 1,500 tons of food, 250 tons of clothing and almost a million litres of fuel.

"He said that there was a "grave risk that intensified fighting will see many civilians trapped", condemning "[how] civilians in Syria continue to be used a s pawns by the various parties".

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