Russia gives Syria rebels 12-hour ultimatum to surrender Daraa

Russia gives Syria rebels 12-hour ultimatum to surrender Daraa
Russia has given Syrian rebels in Daraa 12 hours to surrender, with a temporary ceasefire announced in the south of the country.
2 min read
29 June, 2018
Russia has demanded Syria rebels hand over heavy weaponry [AFP]

Russia has given Syrian rebels in Daraa 12 hours to lay down their arms, before bombing of war-torn southern provinces resumes. 

Russia's so-called Reconciliation Centre announced a 12-hour ceasefire for Daraa to allow negotiations on the possible surrender of southern rebels to take place.

The truce began at midnight Friday with bombing likely to resume at noon if rebels don't agree to surrender.

Pro-regime al-Masdar website claimed the the rebels contacted the Russian-run Reconciliation Center to propose the truce and revealed details of Moscow's demands to the southern opposition.

This included the surrender of the province to the regime and hand over heavy and medium weaponry to Russia with fighters forced to join local regime police units if they want to remain in Daraa.

Those who didn't would have to join the thousands of other fighters and civilians who have left their homes in opposition areas of Syrian for rebel-held Idlib province and parts of Aleppo.

This echoed similar so-called "evacuation deals" brokered by Russia and rebels in Eastern Ghouta and other areas, when rebels and civilians were sent to opposition areas in the north of Syria.

Daraa has suffered tremendously from daily bombing and shelling since the Syrian regime launched an offensive on the area - one of the last opposition strongholds in the country - on 19 June. 

Regime fighters have managed to capture parts of eastern Daraa from the rebels, but have been unable to overrun the opposition forces. 

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Daraa was covered by a US-Russia-Jordan brokered ceasefire, until the regime launched the assault on Daraa and Suweida.

Bombardments of the southern province have intensified in recent days, killing dozens of civilians and forcing at least 50,000 people to leave their homes.

Seventeen civilians were killed on Thursday - including five children - when a bomb hit a basement they were sheltering in.

Schools and hospitals have also been targeted in the air campaign.

The UN has urged Russia and the regime to suspend their bombing, to allow refugees to safely flee the area.

It comes as the UN was forced to suspend aid convoys to Daraa from Jordan due to the bombing.

The body has warned that 750,000 people remain trapped in the war zone, after Jordan announced it would not open its border to refugees.

The US - a guarantor of the truce in southern Syria - has told rebels it would not honour earlier threats to intervene in Daraa if the province was attacked by the regime or Russia.