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Assad's forces suffer losses in rebel-held southern Syria Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Assad's forces suffer losses in rebel-held southern Syria

Southern Syria's Daraa has been a cradle of the Syrian revolution [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 May, 2018

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At least five regime soldiers were killed in clashes with opposition forces as they tried to advance into rebel-held Daraa.
At least five Syrian regime forces were killed and others injured at dawn on Friday as they attempted to advance into rebel-held terrritory in Daraa, southern Syria.

Meanwhile, the rebel Free Syrian Army announced it had begun a campaign of arrests in the Quneitra countryside targeting what they said were "Hizballah sleeper cells" - allied to the Syrian regime - near the Lebanese border.

Local sources said a group of regime troops attempted to advance into Daraa late on Friday but were repelled by rebel gunfire which killed at least five soldiers.

Several factions in Daraa have vowed to confront the regime if they abandon the "de-escalation zone" agreement in the southern region. Russia however has been hinting the agreement is temporary, and the region, like other rebel pockets, must be returned to regime control eventually.

Although the southern region has officially been a "de-escalation zone" since July 2017, activists have documented around 1,900 violations of the agreement by regime forces against rebel-held areas in Daraa and Quneitra provinces.

Rebel fighters in Syria's Daraa have been reinforcing defensive posts for weeks, as they fear a fierce regime assault following successive offensives on other rebel pockets.

Opposition forces still hold more than two-thirds of the surrounding 3,730-square-kilometre province which borders Jordan.

A victory for the regime in Daraa city would carry symbolic weight as it was the cradle of Syria's seven-year uprising against Assad's rule.

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