middle east

Syrian flag raised in Quneitra on Syrian side of Golan Heights

[su_label type=”info”]SMA News – Agencies[/su_label][su_spacer size=”10″] Pro-Assad forces raised the Syrian flag in the largely ruined city of Quneitra on Thursday, regained from surrendering rebels as the government tightens its hold on the Syrian sector of the Golan Heights, strategic territory bordering Israel and Jordan.
A Reuters photographer saw uniformed men raise the Syrian national flag and the black, white, green and red flag of President Bashar al-Assad’s Baath Party in the long-abandoned city. No weapons were immediately visible.
The photographer was reporting from a vantage point on the Israeli-occupied western section of the Golan Heights.
Forces supporting Assad, backed by a major Russian air campaign, have been pushing into Quneitra province after an offensive last month that routed rebels in adjoining Deraa province who were once backed by Washington, Jordan and Gulf states.
Pro-Assad forces began pushing last week towards the border area close to the demilitarised zone adjoining the Israeli-occupied area after rebels surrendered large parts of Quneitra province.
The Russians reached a deal with the last group of mainstream rebels in control of the rebel part of northwestern Quneitra province in a deal that now effectively brings the whole of the border frontier under state control, an opposition source said.
Under the terms of a 1974 U.N. armistice that demilitarised much of the Golan, Israel withdrew from the abandoned capital of Quneitra province which it had razed to the ground after capturing it in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. The destroyed town had fallen into rebel hands in 2014.
Pro-Assad forces have raised the flag in several other towns along the frontier, including al Hamidiyah and Rafid, that overlooks a U.N. observation post.
A Russian-brokered deal allows the return of Syrian army brigades that existed before the conflict began in 2011 to where they were stationed near the demilitarized zone.

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