• Syrian forces set to hoist national flag in Dara'a city

Syrian forces have been making preparations to raise the national flag over the southern city of Dara'a as a major counter-terrorism operation nears an end, with foreign-backed militants leaving the region in negotiated surrender deals.

Witnesses told Reuters that Syrian army vehicles, accompanied by Russian military police, had managed to enter Dara'a on Thursday.

They said cranes from Dara'a municipal council had erected a flag pole near the mosque in Dara'a.

Since June 19, the Syrian army has been conducting the operation in Dara'a, which borders Jordan and the Israeli-occupied side of Syria’s Golan Heights.

Dara’a’s return to the Syrian government control would cut the much-reported collaboration between anti-Damascus militants and Israel which has beefed up its military presence in the Golan Heights in recent days.

In a bid to minimize civilian casualties, both Damascus and Moscow have been initiating talks with militants to make them hand back the areas they control to the Damascus government without fighting.

A militant official said the Takfiri elements, who are still holed up in Dara'a, are in talks with Russian officers to secure a safe passage to the terrorist-controlled areas in northern Syria.

The discussions are expected to resume on Thursday.

Latest estimates say some 2,000 militants are still holed up in Dara'a city, along with their families.

Separately on Thursday, Syrian forces liberated the cities of Mazirib, Enkhel, Kafr Shams and Tafas, all situated in Dara'a Province.

Syria's official SANA news agency reported that Tafas residents had welcomed the Syrian army units and participated in a ceremony to hoist the national flag over the city council.



Jul 12, 2018 14:50 UTC