Syrians head home in thousands after rebels, government agree ceasefire in south

Smoke rises in Deraa area Syria in this handout released

Hundreds of troops in a large military convoy with Russian and Syrian flags advanced on Syria's Nassib border crossing with Jordan, witnesses said.

The border point, which has remained in opposition hands, is one of the key targets of the government's more than two-week offensive in southern Syria.

CARE said that "waves of people have moved to western Daraa" and Quneitra, as the government troops seized control of areas in the southeast of the country.

Jordan, which is already hosting some 650,000 Syrian refugees, has refused so far, citing a combination of security and economic pressures, the Reuters news agency said.

Moscow has been brokering talks with rebel towns for negotiated surrenders in a carrot-and-stick strategy that it and the regime have used to retake other territory, including the Eastern Ghouta region near Damascus earlier this year.

This, in turn, led the global community to call for Jordan to reopen their border to those stranded by the fighting.

Under an agreement announced Friday after talks between militants and Russian Federation, opposition fighters handed the Nassib post back to government control for the first time in three years.

The deal would let rebels hand over heavy weapons in return for a cease-fire and offer a safe passage to the opposition's last stronghold in the north.

Near the start of the government's offensive, Washington indicated it would respond to violations of that deal, but it has not done so yet and rebels said it had told them to expect no American military help.

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A regime air strike on the rebel-held half of the provincial capital of Daraa also killed one civilian, the Observatory said.

Israel's military said it struck a Syrian army post that had shelled a buffer zone on the Golan frontier during fighting with rebels in southern Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based war monitor, said at least 28,000 people had returned in the past day to towns in eastern Deraa covered under the truce deal.

Osama al-Homsi, 26, told AFP he was hesitant to return to his hometown of Jeeza in southeastern Daraa after the deal.

Though Jordan was an important sponsor of rebels in the south, analysts said this support was always aimed primarily at safeguarding its border from security threats such as Islamic State militants, not toppling Assad.

Although local communities in Syria have opened their doors to take in numerous displaced, most are forced to live in open spaces or in makeshift shelters that offer little safety and protection from the elements, he added.

Mr Assad is also aiming to recover control of rebel-held areas of Quneitra province at the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

US -backed and Kurdish-led forces seized the town from the Islamic State group in 2016, but Turkey views the Kurdish fighters as terrorists due to their links to insurgents across the border and has demanded they withdraw.

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