People celebrate as Syrian army purges more towns of terrorists
The Syrian army has liberated several towns and villages from the grip of Takfiri terrorists in the strategic southern Dara’a Province, with locals rejoicing at the restoration of government control over the region.
The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Saturday that government forces had managed to retake more than half of Dara’a, which borders Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
A string of militant-held towns and villages accepted government rule as terrorist lines collapsed. Militants met Russian negotiators to seek peace terms for Dara’a Province, but said the talks failed.
Local groups in many towns recaptured by the army in recent days had negotiated their own surrender deals independently of the main militant operations rooms.
The southwest was an early hotbed of the foreign-backed riots against President Bashar Assad and defeat there would leave terrorists with just one remaining stronghold – the area around Idlib province bordering Turkey in the northwest.
SOHR head Rami Abdel Rahman said that eight Dara’a towns had been returned to government control under Russia-brokered deals “after talks in each town between Russian generals as well as local notables and remaining rebels.”
The so-called reconciliation deals have seen terrorists handing over their heavy weapons and evacuating to militant-held areas in northern Syria.
The towns of al-Ghariyah al-Sharqiya, al-Ghariyah al-Gharbiya, Um Walad, al-Harak and Busra al-Harir, all situated in eastern Dara’a, had been liberated in recent days.
In a statement to Syria’s official SANA news agency, a military source said that the army units had killed a number of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists and destroyed their weapons in al-Ghariyah al-Gharbiya.
The source also noted that the Syrian military’s engineering units had begun dismantling mines and car bombs that terrorists had left behind.
Meanwhile, the town of Dael in northwestern Dara’a Province was recaptured by the Syrian army on Saturday.
State television broadcast live images from Dael, showing residents holding up posters of President Bashar al-Assad and chanting slogans in support of the Syrian military.
Earlier in the day, the the Dara’a areas of Tal Khleif and Tal al-Sheikh Hassan reconciled with the Syrian government, with militants laying down their arms.
The government’s offensive so far has focused on Dara’a province, which borders Jordan, but not Quneitra province abutting the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
The Israeli military raised its alert level in the Golan Heights on Friday as the Syrian army edged closer to the occupied region.
Over the past few months, foreign-backed Takfiri militants have lost much of the territory they once held in Syria amid sweeping gains by government forces on the ground.
The army’s offensive follows the capitulation of militant enclaves near Homs and Damascus, including Eastern Ghouta.
The Syrian army gains ground against terrorists in the strategic southern Dara’a Province, leading Israel to raise its alert level in the bordering Golan Heights.
Jordan has been facilitating talks between militant factions and Moscow over a deal that would end the clashes in exchange for the return of state rule in Dara’a province on its border.
Russian negotiators have demanded militants accept terms like those agreed for Eastern Ghouta, where terrorists either left for militant-held territory in the northwest along with their families or accepted the return of state rule.
The southwest militants did not accept this, and were instead proposing the return of civilian state institutions in the militant areas and the entry of Russian military police rather than Syrian government forces.
Dara’a’s recapture would allow Syria to reopen the Nasib border crossing with Jordan and resume trade across the frontier.
A few months ago, Syrian forces retook the Eastern Ghouta and Eastern Qalamoun regions on the outskirts of Damascus. For years, the areas had served as a launch pad for deadly terror attacks against civilians in the Syrian capital.