Russia strikes Daraa after failure of ceasefire talks with Syria rebels

Russia strikes Daraa after failure of ceasefire talks with Syria rebels
The talks broke down after rebels declined to surrender heavy weapons in exchange for the Syrian regime halting its weeks-long offensive in Daraa.
2 min read
04 July, 2018
The Russian delegation warned rebels strikes would resume if they didn't accept Moscow's terms [Getty]
Russian airstrikes are targeting southwest Syria after ceasefire talks failed with the rebels, Reuters is reporting.

The Syrian rebels in Daraa on Wednesday rejected a Russian proposal to hand over their remaining territory in exchange for the regime halting its southern offensive.

It was their last day to consider the terms, a spokesman for the rebels' southern operations said, before meeting the Russian delegation on Wednesday afternoon. 

"Negotiations with the Russian enemy in Busra al-Sham have failed, after they insisted on the surrender of heavy weapons," the rebels' Central Operations Room in the South said in a tweet.

Moscow, a key ally of the Syrian regime, has backed President Bashar al-Assad's forces during its two-week onslaught of rebels in the south. 

However, it is simultaneously brokering talks with opposition fighters that have seen more than 30 towns agree to fall back under regime control so that bombing stops.

Through military operations and those deals, Syrian troops are now in control of more than 60 percent of the southern province of Daraa.

Wednesday's talks were over remaining rebel territory, including Daraa's western countryside and the southern half of the city. 

According to a source close to the talks, rebels presented a proposal to Moscow during a tense, hours-long meeting on Tuesday. 

It included a ceasefire, the regime's withdrawal from towns it had already taken and safe passage to other opposition territory for rebels or civilians who did not want to live under its control.

Rebels would hand over heavy weapons but would keep the rest until a "real political process" had begun. 

But Moscow roundly rejected the terms, the source said.

It told negotiators that population transfers were not on the table in the south, although it had agreed to them in other areas like Eastern Ghouta and Aleppo. 

Russia insisted the army would return to its pre-2011 positions, and local police would take over towns in coordination with Russian military police. 

The Russian delegation warned that "military operations [would] resume," the source said, should the talks fail.

Regime airstrikes had stopped for several days to allow for negotiations, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. 

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