Tuesday 16 October 2018
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3 months ago

Syria rebels agree to surrender zone bordering Golan

20 July 2018: Syrian rebels have agreed to surrender a sensitive area bordering the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights, a monitor and opposition source said Thursday, the latest in a series of deals expanding regime control over key territory.

The agreement follows another deal that saw thousands of residents evacuated Thursday morning from two pro-regime towns in northern Syria long besieged by hardline rebels.

Both deals, negotiated by regime ally Russia, will be seen as victories for President Bashar al-Assad over the seven-year uprising that once threatened his rule.

With a mix of military power and negotiated surrenders, his forces this month captured more than 90 percent of Daraa, the southern province where protests against him first erupted in 2011.

They then began intensely bombing rebels in Quneitra, a crescent-shaped province wedged between Daraa and the buffer zone with the Israel-occupied Golan to the west.

Under pressure, rebels have agreed to hand over Quneitra and the buffer to government forces, an opposition negotiator and a monitoring group told AFP on Thursday.

The deal provides for a ceasefire, the handover of heavy and medium weapons, and the return of government institutions to the area, said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group.

Syrian forces would take over opposition territory in the buffer and some rebels would be bussed to opposition territory in northern Syria, he added.

- Carrot-and-stick -

The agreement, according to the Observatory, excludes Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a jihadist-led alliance that holds territory straddling Quneitra and Daraa.

State news agency SANA said it had information on a deal for the army to return to its pre-2011 positions in the area, without providing more details.

A rebel negotiator confirmed a preliminary ceasefire agreement on Quneitra had been reached with

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