Temporary truce in Syria's Deraa set to expire as thousands flee

The government and the rebel group FSA agree to a Russian-brokered 12-hour truce that began at midnight on Friday.

    The UN has estimated that 50,000 people have fled the embattled areas in southern Syria in recent days [Reuters]
    The UN has estimated that 50,000 people have fled the embattled areas in southern Syria in recent days [Reuters]

    A temporary truce has taken effect in Syria's Deraa province between the government and the rebel group, Free Syrian Army (FSA), following Russian-led talks in Jordan, but not before relentless airs attacks on Thursday killed at least 32 people, including 11 children.

    Sources told Al Jazeera that the truce began at midnight on Friday, and will last until noon on Friday, local time (0900 GMT).

    Except for the 12-hour truce, negotiators in the Jordanian capital, Amman, have failed to reach an agreement on the demands for the rebels to hand over their weapons, and the opening of the Naseeb border crossing with Jordan.

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    A Syrian source close to the government, however, told DPA news agency said that Damascus has not been informed of any truce in Deraa.

    For days, the Syrian government has been pressing ahead with its offensive to reclaim the strategic region that extends along the border with Jordan and the occupied Golan Heights, and which was until recently part of a US-backed and negotiated truce.

    In the town of al-Musayfirah in eastern Deraa, air attacks that targeted an underground shelter left 17 dead, including 11 children, the worst single incident since the Syrian government offensive began in the area on June 19, according to DPA.

    That brings to at least 96 the total number of civilians killed, including 19 children, since the offensive in Deraa began, according to reports.

    The violence has raised concerns about the humanitarian situation in the province.

    Syria's war: Calls for help as Deraa hospitals are forced shut

    UN Syrian aid envoy Jan Egeland said on Thursday that humanitarian shipments to Deraa and the southern region of Quneitra have been disrupted since June 26.

    "The extremely effective lifeline from Jordan across the border has been discontinued due to the fighting in recent days," Egeland told reporters in Geneva.

    Egeland has also called on Jordan to keep its border open for fleeing Syrian civilians, but the appeal has so far been rejected by Amman.

    The UN has estimated that 50,000 people have fled the embattled areas in southern Syria in recent days. The opposition puts the figure at 100,000.

    Deraa is considered the cradle of the anti-government uprising that erupted in Syria in March 2011, after a series of arrests sparked protests that spread across the country.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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