Syrian govt., rebels reach ceasefire deal

Syrian army soldiers gesture as they pose for

Thousands of displaced Syrians are heading home after rebels and the government reached a Russian-brokered ceasefire in the south after more than two weeks of fierce bombardment.

The Syrian military and its Russian allies pummelled rebel-held towns in southwest Syria overnight with more than 600 air strikes in 15 hours, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said he was gravely concerned for the welfare of civilians and humanitarian aid workers in Daraa province, a region of opposition-held Syria on the Jordanian border.

Anders Pedersen, the United Nations humanitarian co-ordinator in Jordan, said that "around 150 to 200 people (are) right now at the border".

"People have started to return to their homes since yesterday" from the Jordanian border, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said on Saturday.

Many ordinary Syrians who have lived in opposition-held areas for years fear retribution and say that they do not trust the authorities if they return to live again under state authority.

But the key Nasib border crossing remains in opposition hands.

The SANA news agency on July 6 said government troops took the Naseeb border post late on July 5, more than three years after rebels had seized the site near the city of Daraa.

Later, Abazeed told AFP talks would resume.

Government forces will continue to advance at the Nassib border crossing as part of its strategy to fight the rebels, AMN reported.

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Rebels who rejected the deal are to be evacuated to the country's north.

"We agree on an immediate cessation of hostilities on both sides to have a new round of negotiations".

An Islamic State group affiliate, which holds a small pocket in the southwest of Daraa, is excluded from the deal.

The negotiating sides are also in disagreement over the issue of the rebels handing over their heavy weapons with Russian Federation insisting that they give up the entirety of their arsenal in one go and rebels wanting to do so in several phases.

The deal between rebels and Russian Federation announced for Daraa is the latest in a string of such accords to see Damascus regain control of rebel-held areas.

A Syrian man on the Syrian side of the border said he and his family had been camped out near the Jordanian border for 10 days after fleeing the bombardment and airstrikes.

Rebels who did not wish to return under Mr Assad's rule would leave for the insurgent stronghold in north-west Syria, they said.

Hezbollah affiliated Al Akbar newspaper reported over the weekend that the Iranian backed group would gather information on refugees in Lebanon to be shared with the Syrian regime.

Although local communities in Syria have opened their doors to take in numerous displaced, most are forced to live in open spaces or in makeshift shelters that offer little safety and protection from the elements.

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