Jordan's PM visits border shut to displaced Syrians

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Tens of thousands of Syrians are stranded at the border with Jordan as Syrian government forces, backed by Russian Federation, stepped up their offensive to retake the southern city of Daraa, one of the last rebel-held areas in Syria.

Russian efforts to impose a broad ceasefire in south-west Syria broke down at the weekend, prompting the Syrian regime to undertake fresh air raids.

The region borders Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and is considered to be the cradle of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad seven years ago that sparked the civil war.

The army has already captured large parts of the eastern zone of rebel-held territory in Deraa province less than two weeks into its offensive, however.

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Regime forces continued to bombard other parts of Daraa province on Saturday, with air strikes killing at least 15 civilians, according to the Observatory.

These deals imposed by the regime often see opposition fighters hand over their heavy weapons and allow those who want to leave to board buses headed to rebel-held areas in the north of Syria.

Jordan stepped in to try to avert further violence and stem another wave of displacement across its border with Syria on Sunday, mediating new talks between rebels and the Syrian government's main ally Russian Federation for a truce in the southwest.

Israel has deployed artillery and armoured reinforcements along its northern border with Syria, the Israel Defence Forces said on Sunday, as tens of thousands of Syrians fled towards its borders and those of Jordan.

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A schism appears to be forming among opposition authorities in southwestern Syria over ongoing negotiations with the Syrian government on Monday, after a prominent rebel faction reportedly agreed to a preliminary reconciliation deal with Russian negotiators on Sunday evening.

"Over 150,000 people have fled to the plains near the Jordanian border due to intense strikes by the Syrian regime and its allies on cities and towns in Daraa's countryside", White Helmets spokesman Amer Abu Zaid told Anadolu Agency.

So far 132 civilians, including 25 children, have been killed in the latest surge in fighting in Daraa, according to the Observatory. The army had gained control over the towns of al-Harak, Ibta and Rakham, it said, and a rebel said opposition lines in one area had collapsed.

Amman says the actual number is closer to 1.3 million people and says it has spent more than $10 billion (8.5 billion euros) hosting them.

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The strategic southwestern corner of Syria had been under a so-called de-escalation agreement reached between Russian Federation, the United States and Jordan in July of previous year, but the truce has unraveled in recent weeks. While in Israel said that they did not intend to intervene in the events in Syria.

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