Syrian army captures main border crossing with Jordan amid progress in Daraa

Li Jiayao

DAMASCUS, July 6 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian army on Friday captured the Nasib border crossing, the main border crossing with Jordan, amid a progress on the ground through either reconciliations or military action in the southern province of Daraa.

The TV said the army raised the Syrian flag over Nasib crossing, which is located on the outskirts of a town bearing the same name in the southeastern countryside of Daraa.

The army is combing the area around the border crossing and removing the explosive devices left by rebels, it added.

Activists said the Syrian police also reached the crossing, which the Syrian army lost to the rebels in 2015.

The Syrian army has been on a wide-scale offensive in Daraa over the past two weeks. It had managed to retake several border posts with Jordan before capturing the Nasib crossing.

Meanwhile, state news agency SANA said a deal was reached on Friday between the Syrian army and the rebels to settle the situation in Daraa, where battles have been continuing since June 19.

The deal, which is mediated by Russia, will start with a cease-firem, while the rebels in Daraa will hand over their heavy and medium weapons to the Syrian army, said SANA.

The rebels who support the deal and want to stay in their towns can stay, while the rejectors can leave Daraa toward rebel-held areas in Idlib Province in northwestern Syria.

The deal will see the Syrian government restore control over all border posts across the Syria-Jordan border, as the government institutions will return to operation in Daraa, according to SANA.

The people who left their towns and cities in Daraa will return to their homes, according to the deal.

Meanwhile, the pro-rebel Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said both the Russians, who are representing the Syrian government, and the rebels agreed on a comprehensive cease-fire.

They also agreed on the deployment of the Russian police in the countryside of Daraa and near the border crossing with Jordan.

Under the deal, the rebels will hand over their heavy weapons in exchange for the withdrawal of the Syrian government forces from four towns they stormed recently in the eastern countryside of Daraa, according to the London-based monitor group.

The deal comes as the Syrian army has almost captured the entire eastern countryside of Daraa, through either military action or reconciliations.

The monitor group said the army nearly captured 70 percent of Daraa during the two-week offensive, while the War Media, media wing of the Syrian army, said the Syrian army has captured almost all towns and villages in the eastern countryside of Daraa.

The towns of Busra al-Sham, Marba, Jimreen, Kharba, Jbaib and Ghusum have agreed to be reconciled with the Syrian government forces without fighting.

Amid the progress of the army, either through military action or reconciliations, the United Nations Higher Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) on Thursday urged Jordan to open the border for those fleeing the battles in Daraa.

UNHCR said the total number of the displaced has reached more than 320,000, with 60,000 gathering at the border crossing with Jordan.

As the birthplace of the Syrian war that erupted in 2011, Daraa is both symbolically and militarily significant for the Syrian army because the rebels have been using the Jordanian border to bring in arms and fighters throughout the Syrian war.


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