Syrian rebels lose string of southwest towns

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Over 100 civilians have been killed and thousands displaced since the regime offensive began two weeks ago.

Ibrahim Jabawi, a spokesman for the main Free Syrian Army groups, said the rebels had proposed the return of civilian state institutions in the opposition-held areas and the entry of Russian military police rather than Syrian government forces.

As Damascus regained more ground under Russian-brokered deals, a string of insurgent-held areas came under regime control on Sunday, according to a group monitoring the conflict in Syria.

Rami Abdel Rahman of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said: "At least eight towns in the northern and eastern Daraa countryside agreed to "reconciliation" deals after talks in each town between Russian generals as well as local notables and remaining rebels".

According to a war monitoring group, the offensive has uprooted more than 120,000 civilians, driving majority towards the border with Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

It would also allow the regime to reopen the Naseeb border crossing with neighboring Jordan and resume lucrative trade across the frontier.

But much of the province - including part of the provincial capital Deraa city - still remains in the hands of rebels not willing to give up the fight. He said Russian Federation wanted the rebels to hand over their weapons followed by a return of government forces to rebel-held areas.

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Speaking to Israel's Ynet news portal, one Syrian refugee said he and his family felt hopeless after being turned away at the border with Jordan, which has already taken in over half a million Syrian refugees, and turned toward Israel as a last resort.

In a statement released on Sunday, the Israeli military said that it had deployed artillery and armored reinforcements to the area, saying that the move was the result of a situation assessment "in light of developments on the Syrian Golan Heights".

The UN refugee agency has reported that the number of displaced civilians in southern Syria has more than tripled in recent days, with over 160,000 now displaced from their homes in a little over a week.

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 previous year.

The deal being discussed does not include rebel territory in adjacent Quneitra province, bordering the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, the spokesman said.

Israel has been providing aid to southwestern Syria since 2013, including treating chronically ill children who have no access to hospitals, facilitating the construction of clinics in Syria, and supplying hundreds of tons of food, medicine, and clothing to war-ravaged villages across the border.

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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