Russia-Backed Syrian Forces Take Key Border Site After Deal With Rebels

Su-25 fighter jet pilots who took part in the Russian mission in Syria walk on the runway after landing at a military airport in Krasnodar Region Russia

Thousands of displaced Syrians were heading home on Saturday after rebels and the government reached a ceasefire deal in the south following more than two weeks of deadly bombardment, a monitor saids.

BEIRUT-The Syrian regime and its ally, Russia, took control of an important border crossing with Jordan on Friday in a deal with antigovernment rebels that also included the surrender of four nearby towns in the country's southwest.

According to the UN's refugee agency, UNHCR, 60,000 of the more than 320,000 people who have fled the intense fighting since June 19 have been stationed along the border with Jordan.

The Syrian government recovered the crucial Nassib Border Crossing with Jordan, held by rebels for three years, state media reported, after a fierce assault in insurgent territory along the frontier, backed by Russian air strikes.

The army, which had deployed more armoured vehicles in the area, has set in motion "contingency plans to face any eventuality" as the Syrian government offensive closes in on the Nasib crossing, diplomatic sources said.

Recapturing it could bring renewed trade with neighbouring Jordan.

The rebel-held area in southern Syria was included in a cease-fire zone established past year in a deal between Washington, Amman, and Moscow, but that did little to halt the government's assault.

"This morning, remote areas of Jordan's western Ramtha province were struck by munitions due to the recent intensification of Syrian and Russian airstrikes on the Syrian side of the border", the Jordanian military quoted an unnamed official source as saying.

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Under Friday's deal, rebels are expected to hand over their heavy weapons, while those who reject the agreement will be bused with their families to the rebel-held northwestern province of Idlib, state media has said.

Rebels who did not wish to return under Mr Assad's rule would leave for the insurgent stronghold in north-west Syria, they said.

On Thursday, the Israeli cabinet expressed concern over the ongoing Russia-led offensive in Southern Syria, saying Syrian government forces could enter the demilitarized Golan Heights.

The operations ended up with eliminating a number of terrorists and destroying their hotbeds and weapons while the others fled towards the Jordanian border where the army units continue to pursue them and target them with appropriate weapons.

The renewed strikes hit areas near the border with Jordan and further west, according to the Britain-based Observatory.

Southwest Syria is a "de-escalation zone" agreed past year by Russia, Jordan and the United States to reduce violence.

USA forces have backed rebels fighting Assad's government during the civil war.

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