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Regime jets start second day of strikes in Daraa

Local | 2018-03-13 19:51:00
Regime jets start second day of strikes in Daraa
   Syrian regime jets resumed strikes on several rebel-held towns in southern Daraa province Tuesday, rebels said, a day after Washington warned that such bombing would violate a U.S.-Russian "de-escalation zone".

Two rebel sources said jets bombed the towns of Hrak, Busr al Harir and a location in Lajat, all places which were hit on Monday, the first air strikes since a U.S.-Russian agreement brokered last July on a "de-escalation zone" in southern Syria.
 
The United States has called an urgent meeting in Jordan out of concern about reports of strikes in Daraa, a U.S. State Department official said on Monday. If true, the reported strikes would be a clear violation of the ceasefire by the Syrian regime that broadens the conflict, a department official said in a statement.

"We urge all parties in the southwest de-escalation zone not to take actions that would jeopardize the ceasefire and make future cooperation more difficult," the statement said. "We have called an urgent meeting in Jordan to review the situation in southwest Syria and ensure maintenance of the de-escalation zone that the United States helped negotiate." 

 Activist Nader al-Hariri said the about 1000 people have fled the eastern countryside in the past 48 hours.

Southern Front rebels said they received a 'call for restraint' letter from the US Task Command in Jordan accusing the Syrian regime and Russia of not cooperating to stop the violence in (Eastern) Ghouta. "We understand that you would like to ease the suffering of the Syrian people in Ghouta,'' according to the letter."

It added that the treaty in the South is a near-permanent treaty.

One rebel commander said the strikes in the south appeared to be a warning to rebels under the Free Syrian Army umbrella who were planning to wage an offensive in coming days to relieve pressure on their comrades in Eastern Ghouta.

"We were starting an operation, and we had not announced zero hour, and the regime preempted us," Abu Nabout said, a military commander in Liwa Tawheed al-Jnoob, a rebel faction in the FSA rebel alliance.

Russia, which backs the Assad regime, and the United States, which has backed rebel forces seeking to topple Assad, met secretly in Jordan in June and announced a ceasefire in Syria's southwest a month later.

The truce had reduced fighting there and was meant to lead to a longer-lasting de-escalation, a step towards a full settlement.

Rebels have long feared Syria's army will return to attack them once it has consolidated gains in the north and other areas. Insurgents say the de-escalation zones free up Syria's army to make territorial gains elsewhere.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 11 million made homeless in Syria's multi-sided war. The regime has made huge territorial gains since Russia joined the fighting on the side of Assad in 2015. (With Agencies) 
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