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Over 72 pct of Syria's Daraa returns under gov't control

(Xinhua)    11:14, July 09, 2018

Syrian soldiers flash the victory sign in the town of Um al-Mayathen, about 10 km east of the capital city of Daraa province in southern Syria, on July 8, 2018. The Syrian army has expanded its control over 72 percent of the entire Daraa area in southern Syria, state news agency SANA said on Sunday. (Xinhua/Ammar Safarjalani)

DAMASCUS, July 8 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian army has expanded its control over 72 percent of the entire Daraa area in southern Syria, state news agency SANA said on Sunday.

The report said that the army captured the town of Um al-Mayathen, about 10 km east of the capital city of Daraa province, as well as the Air Defense Battalion in the western countryside of Daraa following battles with the militant groups.

Um al-Mayathen is located north of the town of Nasib, which is close to the Nasib border crossing between Syria and Jordan.

The second operation in the Air Defense Battalion also expanded to the road leading to Nasib.

The Nasib crossing, in the southeastern countryside of Daraa, fell to the rebels in 2015 and returned under the army control on Friday following a two-week-long military campaign in Daraa.

The capture of Nasib crossing secured the road between the capital Damascus and Jordan's capital of Amman.

Still, the border has been closed since the rebels captured it in 2015. A Syrian military officer told Xinhua that the opening of the crossing demands a political decision from both countries.

Meanwhile, the military operation continued in western Daraa after several rebel groups in the western countryside of Daraa rejected a Russian-backed deal to settle the situation in that province near Jordan.

The army has already captured almost all towns and villages in the eastern countryside of Daraa either through battles or the reconciliation agreements, which enabled the army to enter areas without a fight as the rebels accepted to surrender their weapons and embark on reconciliation with the government forces.

But in the western countryside, several groups rejected the deals and instead formed the so-called the Army of the South to confront the Syrian army.

On the opposition side, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the government has become in control over 72.4 percent of Daraa while the rebels' control has shrunk to 21 percent, adding that a rebel group allied with the Islamic State (IS) controls 6.6 percent of Daraa.

Daraa has a symbolic significance as it was the birthplace of the Syrian war that erupted in 2011. Securing it will be a big victory for the Syrian army both symbolically and militarily as the rebels have used the Jordanian border to bring in arms and fighters throughout the war.

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(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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