Jordan renews its refusal to allow Syria refugees in

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".

Jordan has played a leading role behind the scenes in persuading Free Syrian Army rebels, whom it and Western powers have long supported, to reach a deal with Russian Federation that could spare southern Syria more bloodshed and destruction.

Jordanian journalist Suha Ma-ayeh quoted a Syrian woman stranded at the Jordan-Syria border, saying she wasn't interested in supplies and aid being sent through from Jordan.

"More than 20,000 people have set off for home so far, heading to areas for which an accord has been reached in the southeastern Daraa countryside", he said.

Just north of the Naseeb crossing, government workers began clearing debris and wreckage from the main highway joining Damascus and the Jordanian border on Monday, Syrian state news outlet SANA reported.

Rebels who did not wish to come back under Assad's rule would leave for the insurgent stronghold in northwest Syria, they said.

Syrian regime forces took up positions and raised flags at the Nasib border crossing with Jordan on Saturday after the opposition forces agreed to hand over the post as part of a Russian-brokered deal.

People inspect the rubble of collapsed buildings following a reported airstrike by government forces on May 24, 2015, in the rebel-held al-Sukari neighbourhood of the northern city of Aleppo in Syria.

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A regime air strike on the rebel-held half of the provincial capital of Daraa also killed one civilian, the Observatory said.

In a statement issued on Friday, July 6, the joint opposition operations room for southern Syria said rebels agreed to a deal that includes their "gradual" surrender of heavy and medium weapons.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said some 60,000 Syrians have returned to their homes, while thousands of others fled to another area, also adding that they feared detention by government forces or being drafted to the military.

Regime forces bombarded southern Syria on Sunday, as the evacuation of rebel fighters under a ceasefire deal for the region was postponed, a monitor and an opposition official said. The rebels will disarm, but in a series of stages.

Another displaced Syrian, Umm Zaid, a mother of five who had lost her husband in the latest offensive, said she would break through the fence if necessary, speaking to Reuters from the border area by phone.

Mr Assad is also aiming to recover control of rebel-held areas of Quneitra province at the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The total number of people displaced by the offensive now stands at more than 320,000.

"As for the notion that Assad will push Iran out after achieving victory, the return of his forces to the south means just the opposite", Ghaddar and Smyth wrote.

  • Sonia Alvarado