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Truce comes into force in Syria's Daraa after weeks of fighting

Syrian army have been battling holdout insurgents in southern city

By AFP - Sep 02,2021 - Last updated at Sep 02,2021

A photo shows Russian troops in the Syrian district of Daraa Al Balad in Syria's southern province of Daraa, on Wednesday (AFP photo)

BEIRUT — A Russian-brokered ceasefire came into force Wednesday in Daraa province, the cradle of Syria's uprising where government forces have been battling holdout insurgents, state media said.

The southern province of Daraa, held for years by opposition forces, was returned to government control in 2018 under a previous Moscow-backed ceasefire that had allowed insurgents to stay in some areas.

But since late July armed groups have exchanged artillery fire with government forces and the Syrian army has imposed a crippling siege on Daraa city's southern district of Daraa Al Balad.

On Wednesday, the warring parties appeared to reach a new truce, with Russia deploying military police in Daraa Al Balad after weeks of mediating talks, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The deployment came after dozens of insurgents were bussed from the district to opposition-held territory in Syria's north last week before intense fighting resumed at the weekend, hampering ceasefire efforts.

The official SANA news agency on Wednesday published photos of crowds at so-called "reconciliation centres" set-up in Daraa Al Balad.

"Armed fighters in Daraa Al Balad started handing over their weapons and settling their status at reconciliation centres," it said.

The UN humanitarian agency OCHA said last week that 38,600 people, more than half of them children, had fled Daraa Al Balad and been registered in and around the city.

The UN and aid groups have also warned of dire humanitarian circumstances inside the district, where a regime siege had threatened supplies of food and medicine.

Daraa, which borders Jordan and is close to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, is widely seen as the cradle of the 2011 uprising in Syria, which sparked a decade-long civil war that has killed almost half-a-million people.

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