Southern Syria Fighting Creates New Refugee, Border Crises; Israel Sends Aid



Syrian rebels and local officials pursued talks with regime ally Russian Federation on Sunday over the fate of a key southern region facing a government offensive, a Britain-based monitor said.

Syria is pushing south in an offensive against rebels in the southern Daraa Province, which borders Israel and Jordan.

Israeli authorities in the Golan Heights have launched a campaign urging local residents to donate toys, games, and clothes to displaced Syrians near the northern border who fled bombardment by Syrian government forces.

"The Russian insistence on attempting to impose conditions, their unreadiness to stop the air strikes during negotiations, all this gives us more reason for lack of trust and justified fear", said Adnan Masalmeh, a coordinator of an opposition committee steering the negotiators.

A top United Nations adviser on humanitarian aid for Syria, Jan Egeland, said he believes the frontier with the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights is "hermetically closed".

The campaign has shattered a "de-escalation" deal negotiated by the United States, Russia and Jordan that had mostly contained fighting in the southwest since past year.

Syrian rebels are negotiating with Russian Federation to return state sovereignty in areas they control in the southwestern Deraa province, where the army has made rapid advances this month, insurgents said on Saturday.

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Despite Washington's threats that it would respond to breaches of that arrangement, it has shown no sign of doing so, and the opposition's top negotiator on Thursday accused it of having struck a "malicious deal" to stay silent.

Though Israel maintains a formal policy of non-intervention with regards to the Syrian civil war, it has quietly provided war-torn Syria with humanitarian aid since June 2016 as part of its "Operation Good Neighbor", which has included treating thousands of wounded Syrians in Israeli hospitals.

The Israeli military said it took in six Syrians, including four young children, over the weekend for emergency medical treatment after their families were killed.

A military media unit run by the government's Lebanese ally Hezbollah, a Syrian state television correspondent and the Observatory said rebels in Bosra al-Sham had started to hand over their weapons.

"These include essential foodstuffs and drinking water", she said, adding that aid had been distributed in the Daraa region across the border from the Jordanian town of Ramtha.

The Observatory said Russian military police had entered several other towns and villages in deals to end their rebellion against Assad.

It is estimated that as many as 115 civilians have been killed in regime bombardments on the province since 19 June.

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