Syria Media: Rebels Reportedly Agree to Surrender Deal in Quneitra

BEIRUT/AMMAN (Reuters) —
Smoke following an explosion in Syria is seen from the Israeli Golan Heights near the Israeli-Syrian border, Wednesday. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)

The Syrian state news agency SANA said on Thursday there are reports that rebels had agreed to a surrender deal in the southwestern province of Quneitra at the frontier with the Israeli Golan Heights.

The report could not be independently confirmed.

If verified, the move would mark another major victory for President Bashar al-Assad, who has recovered swathes of southwestern Syria over the last month in a Russian-backed offensive that has forced many rebels to surrender.

SANA, citing its correspondent, said the deal stipulated a return of the Syrian army to positions it held prior to 2011, when the Syrian conflict erupted.

Citing reports, SANA said the agreement “stipulates the departure to Idlib of terrorists who reject the settlement” and allowed those who wish to remain to “settle” their status with the authorities, meaning accepting a return of Assad’s rule.

A rebel source sent a copy of what he said was the final agreement – which included a provision that Russian military police would accompany two Syrian army brigades into a demilitarized zone that has been in place on the Golan Heights since 1974.

The zone was agreed upon after the 1973 Middle Eastern war.

There would be further negotiations on a deadline for handing over medium and heavy weapons, according to the agreement sent by the rebel source.

President Donald Trump said at a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday in Helsinki that both had agreed to work together to help ensure Israel’s security.

Putin, Assad’s most powerful ally, cited the need to restore the situation along the Golan borders to the state that prevailed before the outbreak of the Syrian crisis in 2011.

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