Syrian army captures Daraa city after entering key rebel stronghold

2018-07-13 03:00:19 GMT2018-07-13 11:00:19(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

DAMASCUS, July 12 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian army entered the Daraa al-Balad area in the capital city of Daraa province Thursday, capturing the entire city of Daraa, according to state news agency SANA.

The Syrian forces entered the Daraa al-Balad area in the southern part of the capital city of Daraa province, raising the Syrian flag in the main square, said the report.

This comes a day after the rebels in that area agreed to surrender their weapons to the Syrian army.

The city of Daraa constitutes of Daraa al-Balad and Daraa al-Mahata area, the first has fallen under the rebels' control since the beginning of the seven-year war while the second remained under control of the government.

A day earlier, the rebels in the Daraa al-Balad agreed to surrender their medium and heavy weapons to the army and either embark on a reconciliation process to remain in Daraa or evacuate toward rebel-held areas in northern Syria.

Daraa al-Balad area is in the southern part of the capital city of Daraa, from which the Syrian war started.

The deal in Daraa al-Balad is the latest in a string of deals struck between the Russian side, which is representing the government, and various rebel groups in Daraa during the Syrian military campaign that has been ongoing in Daraa since June 19.

The deal on Wednesday comes a day after rebels in four towns in the northwestern countryside of Daraa accepted a similar deal.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the army has captured 84 percent of the Daraa province, including the entire eastern countryside of Daraa, either by force or through reconciliations with the rebels.

The army has also captured the entire borderline with Jordan during the operation.

With the recent deals, the army will have to deal with the rebels in a few towns in the western countryside of Daraa near the border with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Those areas are Nawa, al-Harah, Inkhil, Jasim, and Grgis, which are under the rebels' control in addition to the Tasil area, which is controlled by IS-allied militants.

Daraa has a symbolic significance as it was the birthplace of the Syrian war that erupted in 2011. Securing it will be a big victory for the Syrian army both symbolically and militarily as the rebels have used the Jordanian border to bring in arms and fighters throughout the war.

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