Rebels meet US envoy in to cement ceasefire south Syria

[18-07-2017 05:42 AM]

Ammon News - AMMONNEWS - Rebel leaders from Syria's southern city of Deraa met with US and Jordanian officials in Amman this week to discuss arrangements to cement the ceasefire in south west Syria, rebel sources said.

The meeting comes days after the reported arrival of Russian troops near Deraa to monitor the ceasefire, which was brokered with Washington earlier this month in Germany.

Rebel sources told ANSAmed the future of Deraa and the fate of Al Qaeda-linked groups operating in southern Syria, including Jabhat al Nusra and its affiliate groups, were also discussed.

Hezbollah fighters and other Shia militants are said to have evacuated some posts near the Jordanian border as part of the deal, but Damascus continues to maintain a strong presence in Deraa city.

US Special Envoy for Syria, Deputy Assistant State Secretary Michael Ratney, chaired the meeting in the Jordanian capital, where he also discussed the possibility of sending rebels from the south to fight alongside US-backed groups against Islamic State (IS) in northern Syria, the sources added.

The ceasefire in Deraa continues to hold in designated areas, but there is ongoing fighting between the Syrian regime and its allies against rebel groups in the desert region of east Deraa, according to rebel sources.

Damascus and Iranian-backed militias have been trying to extend their reach in east Deraa in an attempt to control parts of the borders with Jordan, but US-backed groups are showing strong resistance amid US air support, the sources told ANSAmed by phone.

Jordan, a strong ally of Washington, has been chosen by the US and Russia as the observation centre to monitor the ceasefire in southwest Deraa. The kingdom sponsors several rebel groups and is strongly believed to have already sent special forces to Syria in clandestine missions in the war-torn country. It has shut down its borders with the neighbouring Arab country and refused to allow refugees to enter its territory, forcing civilians to camp near the borders in difficult conditions, according to activists.

Amman says it has been facilitating humanitarian aid to displaced Syrians near its borders, but refugees say they are unsafe due to continued fighting between rebels and government forces as well as presence of IS fighters.


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