Syrian army hoists national flag in Dara'a city

Islamic State claims responsibility for suicide attack targeting Russian forces in Syria

Islamic State claims responsibility for suicide attack targeting Russian forces in Syria

President Bashar al-Assad's forces are maintaining pressure on Eastern Ghouta with arrests, military conscriptions and restricted food supplies months after the capture of the Damascus suburb in order to assert the government's grip over the former rebel stronghold.

It marks another milestone in Assad's efforts to recover control of Syria, where civil war is estimated to have killed hundreds of thousands of people and driven some 11 million people from their homes.

A government victory in the strategic area bordering Jordan and the occupied Golan Heights would be symbolic, as it is seen as the cradle of the seven-year uprising.

Anti-Assad rebels still control a chunk of the north-west, and the north-east and a large chunk of the east are controlled by Kurdish-led militia.

Syrian state media said Assad's forces hoisted their flag for the first time in years in the rebel-controlled parts of the city after a surrender deal was agreed with local rebels, which included a planned handover of weapons and the exile of opposition fighters and activists.

A militant official said the Takfiri elements, who are still holed up in Dara'a, are in talks with Russian officers to secure a safe passage to the terrorist-controlled areas in northern Syria.

Sagan victory hints at further improvement
Gaviria and Sagan were marking each other when Groenewegen surprised both and surged ahead on the final straight. Peter Sagan had the yellow jersey holder to thank for his victory in Stage 5 of the Tour de France on Wednesday.

Two armored vehicles with senior Russian officers entered the al- Shayah area and began talks with commanders from the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) on implementing the terms of the surrender deal.

"Units of the Syrian Arab army entered the district of Daraa al-Balad and raised the national flag in the main square ... a declaration that Daraa is now clear of terrorism", said the state news agency Sana, referring to the opposition groups as terrorists.

Some 2,000 rebel fighters are holed up in the opposition-held part of Daraa city, along with their families.

"Eight regime and opposition fighters who recently reconciled were killed in a suicide auto bomb attack targeting a military position in Zaizun", said Rami Abdel Rahman, who heads the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Many want to leave due to fear of how the government will treat them.

Rebels in the area hope the Russian military police will prevent the army from taking revenge and keep it out of some neighborhoods, after complaints of looting and arrests when troops entered other nearby towns.

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