Syrian opposition: Talks resume with Russians to end Daraa violence


A new round of talks began on Friday between Syrian rebels and the Russian military aimed at reaching a deal to end a devastating government onslaught that has displaced thousands of people in the southern province of Daraa, an opposition official said.

On Wednesday, rebels reported the collapse of negotiations, saying that the Russians, backers of the Syrian government, had offered "humiliating surrender" demands to the opposition.

Government forces, backed by Russian jets, have since made advances against rebels in Daraa near the border with Jordan.

"The talks resumed today Friday and are being held in the area of Bosra al-Sham (in Daraa's eastern countryside). Today all issues will be discussed in depth," Ibrahim Jabbawi, a spokesman for the rebel command in southern Syria, told journalists by phone. "We hope these talks will lead to results with God's willing," Jabbawi added without giving details.

Opposition sources previously said the Russians had insisted that rebels hand over their heavy weapons before thousands of refugees are allowed to return to their homes.

Following the restart of talks on Friday, an intense air campaign by government and allied Russians on rebel-held areas in Daraa stopped, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, reported.

Forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad started in mid-July a massive ground and air offensive to retake Daraa, the cradle of the 2011 uprising against his rule.    (dpa)



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