Syrian forces recapture Daraa, birthplace of Assad revolt

Islamic State claims responsibility for suicide attack targeting Russian forces in Syria

Islamic State claims responsibility for suicide attack targeting Russian forces in Syria

The victory over rebels in the cradle of the uprising, and the reclaiming of the entire city for the first time in seven years, is a powerful symbol heralding the military defeat of a rebellion that aimed to unseat the Assad dynasty but was waylaid by violent government repression, the rise of Islamist extremists, the unwavering support of the regime's allies Russian Federation and Iran and the dithering of western powers.

Two residents contacted by Reuters said word had spread in Deraa that the state-appointed governor of the province was expected to attend a flag raising, a symbolic move that Assad supporters see as signaling that the end of the revolt is near.

The mosque has since been destroyed in the government's brutal crackdown against the city, which ranged from alleged torturing of dissidents to shelling the city with tanks and planes.

"Units of the Syrian Arab army entered the district of Daraa al-Balad and raised the national flag in the main square ... a declaration that Daraa is now clear of terrorism", said the state news agency Sana, referring to the opposition groups as terrorists.

This was symbolic as more than just the recovery of the last rebel-held city in the south. Deraa was one of the birthplaces of the rebellion, and the site of numerous early protests and revolts that started the protracted Syrian War.

That deal come after a ceasefire announced last week stemmed almost three weeks of regime bombardment on the symbolic wider province of the same name bordering Jordan.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Syrian troops also took over the towns of Tafas, Inkhil, Kafr Shams and al-Mzyrib.

It was the birthplace of the uprising against Bashar al-Assad.

Some 2,000 rebel fighters are holed up in the opposition-held part of Deraa city, along with their families.

At least "14 regime and opposition fighters who recently reconciled were killed in a suicide vehicle bomb attack targeting a military position in Zaizun", said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman, giving an updated toll.

Under the deal, "those (rebels) who want to settle their status with the regime will hand over their heavy weapons, keep their light arms and remain in the city", he added. Those who refuse to cooperate would be evacuated.

The reconciliation deal for Daraa city is the latest in a string of such agreements that have seen the regime retake large parts of the country since 2015.

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