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Jordan 'will refuse' Syrians fleeing regime offensive on Daraa

Displaced Syrians fleeing shelling by pro-regime forces wait in a makeshift camp [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 June, 2018

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Jordan's government said "we simply cannot receive more" as thousands of civilians flee a looming regime assault on rebel-held towns in Daraa province.

Jordan will not take in Syrians fleeing the regime's latest offensive in the country's south, officials said on Monday, as violence in the Syrian province of Daraa escalates.

Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been advancing deeper into Daraa, under the cover of Russian airstrikes.

Jordanian government spokeswoman Jumana Ghunaimat said the kingdom is working with the US and Russia to protect its national interests. The Jordan Times quoted her as saying that Jordan has already absorbed large numbers of Syrian refugees and that "we simply cannot receive more".

Jordan hosts about 660,000 registered refugees, but says the actual number of displaced Syrians in the kingdom is twice as high.

On Saturday, Russian planes pounded rebel-held towns in Daraa - known widely as the cradle of Syria's seven-year uprising - for the first time since the summer of 2017. 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 26 Russian air raids hit the rebel zones as Syrian regime forces shelled the area, killing at least one person.

Local activists told opposition news website Zaman al-Wasl  the strikes have destroyed homes and caused "massive destruction".

The assault comes despite the US, as a guarantor of the de-escalation zone in Daraa, warning it would take "firm and appropriate measures" if the regime pressed ahead with a military operation there.

Southern Syria is a strategic prize for local and global players involved in the country's convoluted seven-year war.

After securing the capital Damascus, Assad appears keen to recapture the southern provinces of Daraa and Sweida, some the last areas under opposition control.

Assad has sent military reinforcements there for weeks, dropped flyers demanding rebels surrender, and escalated bombardment in recent days.

The United Nations has warned that growing violence is putting the lives of 750,000 people in rebel parts of the south in danger.

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