Russia has reportedly started a new round of talks with militants in southern Syria in an effort to make them hand back the areas they control to the Damascus government without fighting as the national army pushes ahead with a liberation operation there.
Ibrahim al-Jabawi, a spokesman for the militants’ negotiating delegation, said the group has returned to the negotiating table with Russia in a bid to strike a deal that ends the fighting in southern Syria.
“The talks are going on now,” he said. “It could take a day, it could take a week, but we are clear that a solution needs to be reached.”
Jabawi also noted that the militants had carried to the negotiating table their “response to a list of Russian demands” brought forward on Saturday.
Diplomatic sources said Russia’s demands had earlier prompted a walkout by the militants, who said the terms amounted to a “humiliating” surrender. However, they were later persuaded by Jordan to return to the discussions.
Meanwhile, key militant groups confirmed the fresh talks, saying in a statement, “A new expanded negotiating committee that represents all the south has been formed to reach an agreement.”
Over the past days, the Syrian army has managed to wrest control over several towns and villages in the strategic southern Dara’a Province, which borders Jordan and the Israeli-occupied side of Syria’s Golan Heights.
Israel says it has beefed up its military presence in the occupied Golan Heights near Syria.
Dara’a’s return to the Syrian government control would cut the much-reported collaboration between Israel and anti-Damascus militants. Thus, the Tel Aviv regime has beefed up its military presence in the Golan Heights in recent days.
The Syrian army’s advances against terrorists have also prompted a new wave of refugees heading towards Jordan, where they have been denied entry.
UNSC to hold urgent meeting
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is set to hold an emergency meeting on Thursday regarding the situation in southern Syria.
According to diplomats, the meeting has been requested by Sweden and Kuwait.
The United Nations estimates that between 270,000 and 330,000 Syrians have been displaced since June 19, when the counter-terrorism operation began in Dara’a.
Jordan urged to open border
Separately on Tuesday, Liz Throssell, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), urged Jordan to open its frontier to the displaced Syrians.
“We call on the Jordanian government to keep its border open and for other countries in the region to step up and receive the fleeing civilians,” she told a news briefing.
Throssell also called on all parties to the Syria conflict to “ensure safe, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian access to those in need.”
Additionally, Pierre Krahenbuhl, the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, visited the recently-liberated Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in southern Damascus and expressed concerns about the situation there.
The Syrian Arab Army has reportedly defeated the last pocket of Daesh terrorists in Yarmouk.
“A visit to Yarmouk is a very deeply moving experience. You can’t escape a deep sense of shock at the level of destruction,” he said. “The scale of the destruction in Yarmouk compares to very little else that I have seen in many years of humanitarian work in conflict zones.”
Baghdadi’s son killed
In another development on Tuesday, a son of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group’s leader Ibrahim al-Samarrai, aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is said to have been killed in Syria’s western city of Homs.
“Hudayfah al-Badri … the son of the Caliph … was killed in an operation against the Nusayriyyah (Syria’s Alawite community) and the Russians at the thermal power station in Homs,” Daesh said in a statement on its propaganda media outlet.
The statement further showed an image of the boy carrying an assault rifle.