Syria Raises Flag Over Fallen Rebel City of Deraa

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Protests in Daraa in March 2011 against the incarceration and torture of teenagers who had scrawled anti-government graffiti on their school wall, sparked a nationwide outcry against the Assad family.

The victory over rebels in the cradle of the uprising, and the reclaiming of the entire city for the first time in seven years, is a powerful symbol heralding the military defeat of a rebellion that aimed to unseat the Assad dynasty but was waylaid by violent government repression, the rise of Islamist extremists, the unwavering support of the regime's allies Russian Federation and Iran and the dithering of western powers.

An Islamic State group affiliate took control of Heet, near the Jordanian border, despite Russian and regime air strikes against them.

The corner of south-west Syria is an important corridor for trade between Syria and Jordan, and onward to the oil-rich Gulf states.

The Syrian army has raised 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.

On Wednesday, state media said opposition fighters and the regime had reached a deal for rebels to hand over their heavy weapons in Daraa al-Balad and other opposition-held parts of the city.

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Much of the southern province of Daraa had been quiet since Friday, when a ceasefire deal between rebels and the Russian-backed regime ended a almost three-week regime assault.

President Bashar al-Assad's regime has retaken more than 60 percent of the country since 2015, when Russian Federation intervened militarily to bolster it.

"Eight regime and opposition fighters who recently reconciled were killed in a suicide vehicle bomb attack targeting a military position in Zaizun", said Rami Abdel Rahman, who heads the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Those who refuse to cooperate would be evacuated.

The regime now controls more than 80 percent of Daraa province, the Observatory says, though some parts of its western countryside remain under opposition control.

They usually follow blistering military campaigns and sometimes stifling sieges that effectively force the rebels into surrendering.

The agreement also provides for safe passage for thousands of opposition fighters and civilians to rebel territory further north, although those transfers have not yet begun.