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Syrian flag in Quneitra on the Syrian side of Golan Heights



GOLAN HIGHTS / AMMAN (Reuters) – Pro-Assad troops raised the Syrian flag Thursday in the largely ruined city of Quneitra after surrendering to rebels while the government arrests the Syrian sector of the strategic Golan Heights

] A Reuters photographer saw uniformed men setting up the Syrian national flag and the black-and-white-green and red flag of the Baath party of President Bashar al-Assad in the long-abandoned city. No weapons were immediately visible.

The photographer reported from a lookout point on the Israel-occupied western part of the Golan Heights, which overlooks the city of Quneitra.

Assad support forces supported by a major Russian air campaign Following a last-resort offensive that drove rebels to the province of Quneitra in neighboring Deraa province, which was once backed by Washington, Jordan and the Gulf states, The pro-Assad forces began to advance towards the border area near the demilitarized zone last week The Israeli-occupied territory for rebels revealed large parts of the Quneitra province

Under conditions of a 1974 UN cease-fire demilitarizing much of the Golan, Israel retreated from the deserted capital of Quneitra province, which had been razed to the ground after being captured in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. The ruined city had fallen into rebel hands in 2014.

Pro Assad forces have raised the flag of several other cities along the border, including Rafid, which overlooks a UN observation post.

A deal negotiated by Russia allows the return of Syrian army brigades that existed prior to the conflict in 2011, where they were stationed near the demilitarized zone.

So far, there have been no signs of significant deployment of Syrian army forces at former posts near the border

Israel says it is worried that Assad will oppose the United Nations ceasefire or station its Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah reinforcements there could.

In parts of Quneitra, there is a strong presence of Iranian-backed militia, intelligence sources said, adding that they have taken a low profile to avoid opposing Russia's pledge that Israel had given up their influence Restrain

The Israeli government has signaled that it would not prevent the presence of the Syrian army in Quneitra as long as it stayed away from the demilitarized zone. However, Israel announced it would continue to escalate attacks along its border and elsewhere in Syria, where it suspects Iranian troops are stationed.

The mainstream rebels carry out a weapons transfer and in some cases negotiate with an army for Russian officers

Several hundred mainly jihadist rebels from a former al-Qaeda branch have rejected the agreements and made a safe passage to parts of the opposition in the country North of Syria accepted.

Rebels say army and prostitution. Government militias have distributed checkpoints in former Quneitra rebels who have accepted a return of state rule

The army is still fighting against a local Islamic state organization around the nearby Yarmouk Basin, where the army had its ground troops on Thursday Ten days of relentless airstrikes under Russian leadership saw significant progress.

(Report by Ammar Awad, Letter by Maayan L Ubell and Suleiman al Khalidi, edited by Stephen Farrell, Kevin Liffey and David Stamp)


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