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article imageRegime offensive to retake Syria's Daraa province

By AFP     Jul 4, 2018 in World

Syria's southern province of Daraa, one of the last rebel bastions, has been the target of a deadly regime offensive since June 19 which has forced around 300,000 people to flee.

Here is a recap of the main events:

- First hits -

On June 19, the regime of President Bashar al-Assad bombards rebel-controlled zones in the east of Daraa province, which borders Jordan and the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights.

Within three days, more than 12,000 Syrians flee after artillery fire and air raids intensify, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor.

- Russian strikes -

Russia joins the offensive on June 23, bombing rebel-held parts of southern Syria for the first time since brokering a ceasefire there nearly a year earlier, the Observatory says.

The following day, Jordan says it will not be able to host a new wave of Syrian refugees and that the countries' shared border will remain closed.

The regime ramps up its bombardment of rebel-held parts of provincial capital Daraa on June 25, slamming more than 55 surface-to-surface missiles into the city, followed by four crude barrel bombs.

Russian air strikes also pummel opposition-held neighbourhoods, as well as a military base under rebel control.

Nearly a week into the offensive, at least 29 civilians are dead, according to the Observatory, while the United Nations says some 45,000 people have fled.

- Assault on Daraa city -

On June 26, the Syrian army launches an assault on Daraa city, targeting several neighbourhoods with air raids and artillery fire.

In New York on June 27, several Western members of the UN Security Council call on Moscow to halt the offensive and "uphold its commitments" in southern Syria, where Russia agreed a ceasefire a year before.

The next day is the bloodiest since the start of the assault. A barrage of Russian air strikes kills at least 25 civilians, mostly in the town of Al-Mseifra.

The United Nations announces it has halted cross-border convoys carrying aid from Jordan into southern Syria over security concerns.

- Deals and 'divisions' -

On June 30, eight battered rebel-held towns in the province return to regime control under Russian-brokered deals.

With these capitulations, regime forces double their territorial control in Daraa to around 60 percent since the offensive began.

Rebels and local officials, meanwhile, hold talks with Russia over a regime takeover of the rest of the province.

But on July 2, the civilian part of the opposition's delegation withdraws from the talks.

The Observatory says there are "divisions among rebel groups" over whether to agree to the terms proposed by Russia.

On July 4, rebels say in an online statement the talks have failed "after they insisted on the surrender of heavy weapons" in one go.

According to the United Nations, between 270,000 and 330,000 Syrians have fled violence in the province since June 19.

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