Syrian rebels and Russia ceasefire deal breaks down

The Russian demands prompted a walkout by the rebels, who said the terms amounted to a humiliating surrender.

Deraa - truce
Thousands have been displaced in southern Syria since the regime offensive began two weeks ago [Reuters]

Syrian armed opposition said on Wednesday that talks with Russia aimed at a comprehensive ceasefire in Deraa and Quneitra in southern Syria had failed.

The Syrian Negotiations Commission (SNC) said Russia refused that Syrian regime forces and Iran-backed fighters withdraw from captured areas in order to let displaced people pass through.

This comes after reports that Russian air attacks had targeted southwest Syria for the first time in four days, hitting the rebel-held towns of Tafas and Saida.

Spokesman Ibrahim al Jabawi said the rebels had carried to the negotiating table their “response to a list of Russian demands” that included the handing over of weapons and settling the status of rebels in a deal that would end the fighting.

The Russian demands, handed to negotiators in a meeting in a town in southern Syria on Saturday, had prompted a walkout by the rebels, who said the terms amounted to a humiliating surrender.

The rebel camp has, however, been deeply split over the Russian demands, with some negotiators saying they wanted to continue the fighting and accusing some rebel commanders of cutting separate deals with the Russian military.

Rebels and residents say that a string of rebel towns have worked out their own surrender arrangements that have allowed the Russian military to enter their towns and patrol neighbourhoods.

In the last several days, Deraa has been the target of intense air and ground attacks by the Bashar al-Assad regime and its allies, who have advanced deep into Deraa’s eastern countryside, capturing the towns of Busra al-Harir and Nahtah.

More than 100 civilians have been killed and thousands displaced since the regime offensive began two weeks ago.

Following peace talks held last year in Kazakh capital, Astana, Deraa was designated a “de-escalation zone” in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.

Source: News Agencies