Published: Mon, July 02, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Syrian rebels say peace talks with Russian Federation over southwest Syria failed


After what rebels and opposition groups described as "failure" of talks with Russian Federation, both sides are back to the table to quell the regime offensive in Syria's Daraa province.

The deal being discussed does not include rebel territory in adjacent Quneitra province, bordering the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, the spokesman said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Saturday reported on the collapse of ceasefire negotiations between Russian forces and the Assad regime and the towns around Daraa, in southwestern Syria, near the border of Israel's Golan Heights, where Russian warplanes and Syrian army tanks carried out intensive raids on local civilians.

On Saturday, the monitor said at least eight battered opposition-held towns in southern Syria had returned to regime control under Russian-brokered deals after almost two weeks of bombardment.

Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah, which fights alongside Damascus, said meanwhile that a "very big victory" was near in southern Syria, where pro-government forces have made rapid gains in Deraa province.

Insurgent negotiators and a spokesman said a six-member civilian and military committee of the southern rebels held a preliminary meeting along the administrative borders of neighboring Sweida province. The northwestern chunk of Daraa province remains in opposition hands.

"The regime wants us to hand over everything - Daraa city, the Naseeb crossing, ourselves and the heavy weapons". A second round of talks was expected on Saturday.

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Smoke rises above a town east of the city of Daraa during air strikes by Syrian regime forces on June 30, 2018.

With the latest deals brokered by regime ally Russian Federation, regime forces now control more than half of the province, up from just 30 percent at the start of the escalation, it said.

The recent escalation comes despite Daraa and opposition-held parts of neighboring Quneitra province being included in a so-called "de-escalation zone" agreed by Russian Federation, the United States and Jordan previous year.

Syrian's main opposition group, the Syrian Negotiation Commission (SNC), implored the global community to speak out against the violence, saying it should be clear to members of the United Nations security council that Russian Federation and Iran "cannot be trusted to negotiate peace, since they are violating the agreement they themselves made".

Jordan, which has taken in more than half a million displaced Syrians since the war began, and Israel have said they will not open their borders to refugees.

"We call on the worldwide community to condemn the brutal breaching of the de-escalation zone. and take all possible measures to halt this assault on our people", SNC spokesman Yahya al-Aridi said in a statement.

It is estimated that as many as 115 civilians have been killed in regime bombardments on the province since 19 June. Pictured: Refugees fleeing the conflict.

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