Syrian Army offensive stalls in Daraa

Smoke rises in Deraa area Syria in this handout released

Smoke rises in Deraa area Syria in this handout released

Fighters battling a government-led offensive in southern Syria have agreed to a ceasefire deal with Russian Federation, a major ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to a rebel spokesman. The Observatory, along with residents and rebels in Saida, said barrel bombs were also dropped on Saida on Wednesday evening.

Earlier on Thursday, Syria's official news agency SANA reported that government forces advanced towards the Dara'a al-Balad residential area of Dara'a, located about 13 kilometers north of the border with Jordan, where militants affiliated to the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, Takfiri terror group are positioned.

Twenty-seven neighborhoods in Syria's Southern de-escalation zone have come over to the government side over the past week, a spokesman for the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Parties in Syria (subordinated to the Russian defense minister) said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Sohaib al-Rheil, a representative of the Alwiya al-Furqan brigades, condemned the attitude of the Russian negotiators. Jordan persuaded them back to the negotiating table, official sources said.

Syria observers say the bombardment was meant to get rebels to back down after rejecting tough Russian ceasefire terms on Wednesday.

According to Hezbollah's military media, nine border posts with Jordan within the administrative borders of Daraa have been captured by the regime forces.

Moscow has been brokering talks with rebel towns for negotiated surrenders in a carrot-and-stick strategy that Russian Federation and the regime have used to retake swathes of territory including the Eastern Ghouta region near Damascus earlier this year.

There was no immediate comment from President Bashar al Assad's government and its Russian backers.

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Hussein Abazeed, spokesman for the south's joint rebel command, accused Russian Federation of pursuing a "scorched-earth policy" to force rebels back to the negotiating table.

Rebel sources said Moscow had demanded rebels hand over all their heavy arms in one go but that opposition fighters wanted to do so in several phases.

A member of Syria's pro-government forces walks past damaged structures in the town of Mudyara, formerly held by opposition groups, in the centre of the eastern Ghouta region as regime troops carry on with their assault on the rebel-held enclave, just outside the capital Damascus.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 159 civilians had been killed since the offensive began two weeks ago, including 33 children.

About 60,000 have gathered at the Nassib-Jaber border crossing overlooking Jordan, while thousands more are at the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan heights.

The onslaught has sparked calls for restraint and an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council on July 5.

Zouhir Al Shimale contributed reporting from Syria.

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