Syrian regime gains ground

UN Warns of Humanitarian Catastrophe if Fighting Escalates in Daraa, Syria

Syrian civilians being mercilessly bombed by their own regime and turned away by neighboring Arab countries are thanking Israel for showing kindness even to its enemies.

The agreements for the eight towns were reached even as regime air strikes on Saturday pounded other opposition holdouts in the wider southern province of Daraa, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said.

For almost two weeks, the Syrian army, backed by Russian aerial support, has been launching a massive bombardment campaign against the rebel-held towns in Syria's Daraa province, the birthplace of the 2011 uprising.

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

Government forces have been advancing with the help of Russian air strikes. "I sacrificed a tank in order for the displaced to return", he said, hinting at the benefits of a potential political settlement with the government.

Israel has deployed artillery and armoured reinforcements along its northern border with Syria, the Israel Defence Forces said on Sunday, as tens of thousands of Syrians fled towards its borders and those of Jordan.

In the last two weeks, the Syrian government has taken much of the Daraa region.

National-security adviser John Bolton said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's hold on power wasn't a strategic issue for the USA and that President Donald Trump hoped to secure Russia's help in evicting Iranian forces from the country. Washington has told rebels not to expect military support against the assault.

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Ahmad al-Awdeh, the commander of Shabab a-Sunnah, denied reports that his faction had agreed to any kind of reconciliation deal with the Syrian government in a series of voice recordings distributed by activists on WhatsApp on Sunday evening. The source did not elaborate.

Reported airstrikes killed six civilians in Al-Hirak on 26 June. The army had gained control over the towns of al-Harak, Ibta and Rakham, it said, and a rebel said opposition lines in one area had collapsed.

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

But just under half of Daraa province - including part of the provincial capital of the same name - still remains in the hands of rebels, and the United Nations is putting the numbers of internally displaced at over 160,000. State TV broadcast scenes of what they said were locals celebrating the army's arrival in the formerly rebel-held town of Ibta and said rebels turned in their weapons.

Fierce battles were still ongoing around Deraa city, near the Jordanian border, where the army had repeatedly failed to capture a disused air base, rebels said.

Rebels said they had taken back several towns and villages lost to the army earlier in the day, but their overall loss of ground was still significant.

"We call on the global community to condemn the brutal breaching of the de-escalation zone. and take all possible measures to halt this assault on our people", SNC spokesman Yahya al-Aridi said.

The Israeli military said an increased number of Syrian civilians had been spotted in refugee camps on the Syrian side of the Golan over the past few days and it had sent aid supplies to four locations "to Syrians fleeing hostilities".

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