Syrian Opposition Surrender Heavy Weapons to Regime Forces in Daraa

Published July 15th, 2018 - 09:00 GMT
(AFP/Youssef Karwashan)
(AFP/Youssef Karwashan)

Opposition factions and fighters in southern Daraa began surrendering and handing their heavy weapons to regime forces, under a deal brokered by Russia, at a time when reports stated that regime forces were taking strategic hills in Daraa countryside.

Regime forces hoisted the Syrian flag over neighborhoods that had been under the opposition’s control dominated for years in the southern city of Daraa, signaling the army’s full restoration of the city.

According to Reuters, hundreds of Syrian rebel fighters and their families were preparing to leave Daraa city in southwest Syria on Sunday, to be taken on buses to opposition-held areas in the north.

A rebel official, Abu Shaima, said at least 500 fighters were boarding around 15 buses and that he will be one of those leaving.

The fighters are leaving the Daraa al-Balad neighborhood of Deraa city which had been under rebel control for years until a surrender deal last week. Under the deal, rebels would hand over weapons and fighters who do not wish to live under state rule would be transferred out.

State-owned news agency Sana reported that armed groups, positioned in Daraa al-Balad, began to hand over their heavy and medium-sized weapons to the Syrian army.

“The process will continue until handing over all heavy and medium-sized weapons by the armed groups,” added SANA.

On June 19, Syrian Army, backed by Russian forces, began bombarding rebel areas in Daraa and the neighboring province of Quneitra. The forces advanced quickly against opposition factions most of which operate under Jordanian-US influence. Following military pressure, Russia made a deal with opposition factions in the province to cease fire on July 06.

The agreement indicates that factions have to hand over their heavy weapons, the gradual entry of state institutions into their areas of control and the evacuation of fighters against the deal in Idlib to north Syria.

Authorities removed on Saturday all the barricades that were set up by terrorist organizations on the international highway that connects the Old Customs and the Jordanian borders in Daraa, SANA reported.

Daraa city was the scene of the first major peaceful protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's authoritarian rule in March 2011 which spiraled into a war now estimated to have killed half a million people.

Regime forces now hold more than 85 percent of Daraa province. Some western areas of the province remain under opposition control, and the deal excludes a southwestern patch held by an ISIS affiliate “Khalid Ibn Walid Army”, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Meanwhile, Free Syrian Army (FSA) began opening the road leading to Sajna neighborhood, in Daraa, in preparation for the withdrawal of the regime forces from it.

General coordinator of Crisis Cell in Daraa Adnana Msalma said that the bulldozers began openning the road and removing the barricades from the old customs point towards the bridge of Sajnah.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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