Syrian government forces, rebels reach truce in flashpoint area

Syrian soldiers are seen on the Damascus-Aleppo highway near the administrative border of Aleppo province, Syria, on Feb. 12, 2020. For the first time since 2012, the Syrian army wrested control of the strategic Damascus-Aleppo highway following battles against the rebel groups, a war monitor reported on Tuesday. (Str/Xinhua)

Syrian government forces and rebels have agreed on a two-week ceasefire in a volatile area in the south of the war-torn country, a local official has said.

The agreement was reached after talks with the Russian army, a major ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the spokesman for a local coordination committee added late Saturday.

For the past few weeks, government forces have shelled and clashed with opposition fighters in the area of Daraa al-Balaad in the province of Daraa, the birthplace of an uprising that erupted against al-Assad’s rule in 2011.

Since June 24, government forces have imposed a siege on Daraa al-Balad.

The rebels surrendered the city of Daraa in 2018 after reaching an agreement with Russia and handed over their heavy weapons.

Parts of the city, however, remained under the control of the opposition.

On Thursday, United Nations Special Envoy for Syria

Geir Pedersen expressed concern about violence in southern Syria.

“Increased hostilities, which have included heavy shelling and intensified ground clashes, have resulted in civilian casualties. Thousands of civilians have been forced to flee Daraa al-Balad,” Pederson said.

He warned that the situation there is alarming and that civilians are suffering from acute shortages of fuel, cooking gas, water, and bread as well as medical assistance.

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