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Air strikes hit southern Syria, forcing thousands to flee



Posted: June 28, 2018 8:00 pm Updated: Jun 28, 2018, 13:43

BEIRUT (AP) – Air strikes detonated Thursday in rebel areas in southwestern Syria, killing at least 17 civilians in the country an underground shelter and thousands of their homes expelled, as dozens of displaced people protested near the Israeli Golan Heights and demanded international protection.

The Syrian government continued its offensive to recapture the strategically important region along the border with Jordan and the Golan Heights, and until recently was part of a US-backed and negotiated ceasefire.

The UN authorities have signaled that the humanitarian crisis is likely to deepen in order to reach the estimated 50,000 people displaced since Tuesday. Jordan, which already hosts 660,000 registered refugees, says it can no longer accept and has sealed its border despite appeals from aid agencies.

Near the Golan Heights, dozens of displaced people raised banners in protest. Thousands have fled into the area and said that their proximity to Israeli forces would prevent Syrian air strikes. One activist said the camps are about three kilometers from the border.

Activists and a UN official said a new group left their homes Thursday in western Daraa province, where government strikes knocked out Nawa, one of the largest cities

Linda Tom, spokeswoman for the United Nations Office for the United Nations Coordination of humanitarian affairs, said unconfirmed local reports suggest that a "very large number" ̵

1; estimated at 50,000 people – was expelled from Nawa.

Yasser al-Khatib, activist-operated Nabaa news, gave a similar estimate.

Syria's top UN humanitarian adviser, Jan Egeland, said he believes the border with the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights is "hermetically sealed." "

" I think you must ask the Israelis if they are also involved in providing shelter and protection to the fugitives, "Egeland said.

The Israeli military said it oversees the situation and is prepared for it AV Variety of Scenarios An Israeli official said the authorities were likely to provide humanitarian aid to flee Syrians, but did not allow them to enter Israel, the official said on condition of anonymity because the plan was still evolving Israel has been sending humanitarian aid across the border for several years, never claiming that it provides military aid to Syrian rebels.

The strategic southwestern corner of Syria was located in July last year under a so-called de-escalation agreement between Russia, the US and Jordan The ceasefire has has loosened up in recent weeks. Moscow is an important ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and a Russian air campaign launched in 2015 has helped recapture large parts of the country.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that fighter planes trampled areas with rebels many like 240 raids, with raw barrel bombs falling all day. The observatory described Thursday's air raid in al-Musayfrah town in eastern Daraa, which claimed 17 casualties, as the worst violence since the start of the government's 19-June offensive.

The observatory said at least five children were killed among those. An activist from the opposition-ridden Horan Free Media, who calls himself Abu Mahmoud Hourani, said the rescuers would drag dead bodies out of the underground shelter in the early afternoon.

He said the death toll was 20 and women and children were among the victims. "The situation on the ground is catastrophic," Hourani said.

The Syrian government forces are trying to expel rebels who have been in the area for years and gain control of the trade border with Jordan.

In the Last Days Government forces broke new ground by dividing rebel areas in Daraa's east and west into two and separating their supply lines.

Syrian Civil Defense, a volunteer first responder, said more than 150 air strikes target 12 towns and villages in Daraa

Jordan has asked the United Nations to provide security to the displaced Syrians in their own country, while Israel has not agreed to Offensive still took position for eviction.

According to the Observatory, at least 46 civilians, including 15 children, were killed since the offensive began, including the victims of Thursday's air raid

The international aid organization CARE said that humanitarian workers in the South are struggling to provide basic care deliver it. An aid organization worker in an organization supported by CARE was killed Tuesday.

"Civilians pay the price for another military offensive," said Wouter Schapp, CARE's country director in Syria. "Towns and villages are bombed daily, people uprooted and lack basic human needs such as water and shelter."

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Associated Press author Joe Federman in Jerusalem contributed to this report.


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