Assad forces move to secure Syria-Israel border zone

Smoke following an explosion in Syria is seen from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights near the Israeli Syrian border

Syrian government forces unleashed hundreds of missiles on a rebel-held area near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Sunday, activists said, the latest phase in an offensive to clear southern Syria of insurgents. That would pave the way for the entire city to come under government control in accordance with the handover deal.

A Syrian army source quoted by state media said the army had made territorial gains in Quneitra province where it seized the town of Mashara, about 11 km (7 miles) from the Golan frontier.

Under some of these deals, Russian military police would oversee local security - rather than Syrian government forces - and rebels would become part of Russia-supervised local security forces.

After a few moments, the Syrians dispersed, the army said, and they could be seen walking back toward a displaced persons camp in the village of Bariqa, near the border.

The Daraa onslaught took less than three weeks to break the rebels' grip, with the regime now in control of more than four-fifths of that province's territory, the Observatory said.

Under such agreements, rebel forces hand over territory as well as their heavy and medium weapons to regime troops in exchange for a halt to bombing.

Sixteen trucks carrying 3,000 food parcels reached the towns of Nassib and Um Al Mayathen in Deraa province near a border crossing with Jordan, the Red Crescent said in a statement.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a group led by Syria's former Al-Qaeda affiliate, is present in that area, he said.

Sunday's convoy was accompanied by a delegation containing the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Syria Ali Al-Zaatari and representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

A picture was taken on July 16, 2018 from the Israeli side in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, shows smoke plumes rising from Syrian and Russian air strikes across the border in Syria's southeastern Quneitra province.

Trump has shifted away from his predecessor Barack Obama's policy of demanding the ouster of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, a position the US adopted before Russian Federation intervened militarily in late 2015 to turn the tide of the civil war in Assad's favor with Iran's help.

Daraa city was the scene of the first major peaceful protests against Assad's authoritarian rule in March 2011 which spiralled into a war now estimated to have killed half a million people.

Israel has warned of a "harsh response" should Syrian government forces be deployed in the area and perceives the presence of Iranian and Hezbollah troops - key backers of President Assad - a threat to its security interests in the region.

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