Syrian Rebels Say Army is Besieging Key Districts in Daraa

Government troops took control of a border crossing with Jordan and promised to leave four villages

Much of the southern province of Daraa had been quiet since Friday, when a cease-fire deal between rebels and the Russian-backed regime ended a almost three-week government assault.

A Syrian army soldier stands next to a Syrian flag in Umm al-Mayazen, in the countryside of Deraa, Syria, July 10, 2018.

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.

The Russian base has been a frequent target of attacks by opposition forces in recent months, the largest of which occurred in January when the Russian military claimed to have shot down seven of 13 drones that attempted to bomb the airbase, and jammed the others forcing them to land.

In a bid to minimize civilian casualties, both Damascus and Moscow have been initiating talks with militants to make them hand back the areas they control to the Damascus government without fighting.

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Rebels holed up in part of Deraa city are still in talks with Russian officers, with many of them aiming to secure safe passage to opposition-held areas of northern Syria, rebel officials said.

A convoy of Russian military police was expected to enter the devastated area later on Thursday in the first such deployment inside the enclave where they were expected to set up observation posts and perform security duties.

"Syrian army units enter Daraa al-Balad and raise the national flag in the main square", the official news agency SANA said of the center of the southern city.

The current progress comes after controlling all the borders with Jordan, the report said, adding that the Syrian regime helicopters dropped warning leaflets on Al-Hara village in the northwestern Daraa countryside where the highest hill in the city is located.

SOHR head Rami Abdel Rahman said Jaish Khaled bin Walid terrorists captured the village of Hit near the Jordanian border "after violent clashes".

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