Syrian troops celebrate recapture of Jordan border crossing

Anders Pedersen, the top United Nations humanitarian co-ordinator in Jordan, told reporters Sunday that just 150 to 200 Syrians remained near a key crossing point into Jordan, adding that as "far as we understand they are nearly exclusively men".

In a live broadcast from the Nassib border crossing with Jordan, state television showed groups of Syrian army soldiers flashing victory signs, cheering for Assad, and tearing up insurgent flags.

The UN refugee agency says around 60,000 Syrians have gathered near the border.

Rebels who refused to come back under Assad's rule would leave for the insurgent stronghold in north-west, they said.

But taking over the Nasib crossing is a major victory for the Syrian government, which wants to re-open the border crossing as a significant trade route.

The deal also provides for government forces to take over "all observation posts along the Syrian-Jordanian border", it said, hours after the regime regained control of the vital Nassib border crossing with Jordan.

They said Russian Federation had insisted opposition factions hand over their heavy weapons in one go, while rebels wanted to do so in several phases.

Six civilians, including a woman and four children, were killed in the town of Saida, which regime ground forces were trying to take, it said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based war monitor, said Syrian and Russian air strikes pounded the town and its environs, killing three people.

The UN has repeatedly pointed out that there are numerous reasons for refugees to remain outside the country and as such will not work to return Syrians to their country although it would assist those who wish to go.

This is the fourth round of negotiations that failed between rebel groups and Russian military.

"The solution is political and the protection of civilians, preventing their displacement and saving the (Syrian) brothers more suffering is everyone's responsibility", he wrote.

Daraa lies in a wider southern region that Assad aims to retake, including the neighbouring province of Quneitra to the west, which borders the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

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

Meanwhile on Saturday, some 400 displaced people who had been living in Lebanon near the northeastern border town of Arsal returned home to war-torn Syria.

Though Jordan was an important sponsor of rebels in the south, analysts said this support was always aimed primarily at safeguarding its border from security threats such as Islamic State militants, not toppling Assad.

An opposition commander with Jaish al-Janoub told Syria Direct on Monday that rebel fighters were still "stationed on the frontlines" with pro-government forces, but were not sure what would happen next.

  • Joey Payne