Syria govt forces close to seizing Jordan border crossing - pro-Damascus commander

Syria govt forces close to seizing Jordan border crossing - pro-Damascus commander

Syria govt forces close to seizing Jordan border crossing - pro-Damascus commander

Jordan's Minister of Foreign Affairs Ayman Safadi stated that Jordan, now facing 60,000 refugees currently near its border with Syria, placed the safe return of Syrian refugees on the top of its priority list.

The offensive has displaced around 3,20,000 people since June 19, the United Nations says.

The army, which had deployed more armoured vehicles in the area, has set in motion "contingency plans to face any eventuality" as the Syrian government offensive closes in on the Nasib crossing, diplomatic sources said.

Both countries say they will not open their borders, but have distributed some supplies inside Syria.

He said Syrian and Russian jets had pummeled towns across the south-west and villages near the border crossing in the past few weeks.

The capture of the Naseeb border crossing is another victory for President Bashar Assad's forces, who have regained control of most of the area's key cities from insurgents.

The Observatory and the government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media said troops now also control most areas along the Jordanian border, after taking the main border crossing there.

The deal will take place in phases across Daraa, but there is no timeline yet, an opposition official said.

Jordan has been an important mediator with regard to Syrian rebels and the Russian government.

More than 150 civilians have been killed in the regime bombing campaign on Daraa since June 19, the observatory says, and trust in the government does not run high.

Tense talks focused on the fate of Daraa city and its western countryside dragged late into Friday, said rebel spokesman Abazeed.

Under the deal, Russian military police will take the border crossings, and will guarantee the return of displaced civilians and rebels who want to end their opposition to government rule.

The territorial gain is the latest victory for Assad, who has scored a string of successes with the backing of Russian Federation and Iran and now dominates some 60% of the country.

"The government has got its hands on a major economic hub that links Syria with other countries, above all Jordan and the Gulf states", a jubilant Syrian military source said at the scene.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based war monitor, said at least 28,000 people had returned in the past day to towns in eastern Daraa covered under the truce deal. The Norwegian Refugee Council has called this the largest displacement of Syria's seven-year war.

Assad's next target in the south-west appears to be rebel-held areas of Quneitra province at the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, where fighting between insurgents and the government escalated on Friday.

US -backed and Kurdish-led forces seized the town from the Islamic State group in 2016, but Turkey views the Kurdish fighters as terrorists due to their links to insurgents across the border and has demanded they withdraw.

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