Friday, July 20


Troops plant Syrian flag on on al-Haara hill in Quneitra region

July 20, 2018 02:18 GMT
RFE/RL with reporting by Reuters, TASS, AP, and AFP
[and editing by Pundita to keep RFE/RL on the actual subject of the report]

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is set to regain control of his country's frontier with Israel in a major victory over rebels who have agreed to surrender in negotiations with Russia, sources on both sides say. 

A copy of the surrender agreement sent to Reuters by a rebel source said insurgents had negotiated the deal with Russia. The surrender deal seen by Reuters included a provision saying Russian military police would accompany the Syrian Army to the frontier area in a bid to ensure Damascus adheres to the 1974 cease-fire agreement.
Echoing surrender terms imposed on rebels elsewhere in the country, opposition fighters agreed to give up their heavy and medium-sized weapons. Those wishing to stay in the area agreed to "settle" their status with the state, meaning accept the return of Assad's rule.
Rebels who rejected the surrender terms were given safe passage and transport to the opposition-held province of Idlib in the northwest.
The terms of the surrender deal were also reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based war monitor, and a military news outlet run by Lebanon's Hizballah.
Reports said an affiliate of the Islamic State extremist group continued to hold a sliver of the Golan frontier and it is not party to the agreement.
The United States may have also been involved in the deal. U.S. President Donald Trump said at a news conference after his summit with Putin on July 16 in Helsinki that the two leaders had agreed to work together to help ensure Israel's security. The resumption of Syrian control over areas bordering the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, one of the last remaining rebel strongholds in the country, appears to be part of a larger Russian plan to reinstate Syrian control in the border region while clearing the area of pro-Iranian militias, as sought repeatedly by Israel and the United States in talks with Moscow this year.
Russia's ambassador to Syria, Aleksandr Kinshchak, told Russian news services in Moscow on July 19 that the south of Syria near Israel had now been cleared of Iranian-allied groups.
"This issue has already been settled. I have repeatedly heard from different sources that there are no pro-Iranian, Shi'ite units in the south of Syria," he was quoted as saying by state-run news agency TASS.
The latest surrender deal by rebels puts the Syrian government face-to-face with Israel along most of its frontier for the first time since 2011, when an uprising against Assad's rule ushered in the civil war.


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