Russian Jets Strike Rebel-Held Syrian Town

Elias Hubbard
June 25, 2018

"Intense Russian air strikes are hitting towns in Daraa's eastern countryside for the first time since the ceasefire was agreed in southern Syria past year", said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

The US had earlier warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian allies that violations of a "de-escalation" zone agreed by the United States and Russia previous year would have "serious repercussions" and pledged "firm and appropriate measures".

The raids on Al-Herak hit near a hospital, damaging it and forcing medical staff to shut it down at least temporarily, he said. South-west Syria is of strategic concern to United States allies Israel and Jordan.

Since then, Moscow's warplanes - active in Syria since 2015 - had refrained from bombing rebel positions in the south.

A total of 23 civilians have been killed in opposition areas since the escalation began on Tuesday, according to the Observatory.

Many have sought refuge in poorly-resourced displacement camps further west, with little access to food or water. It could secure the reopening of a major worldwide border crossing with Jordan.

The United Nations has also warned that growing violence is putting the lives of 750,000 people in rebel parts of the south in danger.

On Sunday, the Israeli air force fired a Patriot missile at a drone approaching its northern border from Syria, forcing it to turn back.

The Syrian government forces, jointly with the Free Syrian Army, has repelled a spate of al-Nusra Front attacks in the country's southern de-escalation zone, according to a Saturday Russian Defense Ministry announcement.

Although the offensive has not started yet in full force, his troops have already captured four villages in the south, the Observatory said.

Though the rebel groups are fairly small in this area, they've always been backed by the US.

The US warning was contained in an Arabic-language message distributed to rebel commanders and seen by AFP.

In a message from Washington to the heads of the Free Syrian Army groups, the United States government said "you should not base your decisions on the assumption or expectation of a military intervention by us".

"We in the United States government understand the hard conditions you are facing and still advise the Russians and the Syrian regime not to undertake a military measure that violates the [de-escalation] zone", the message also said.

The US did not immediately confirm the letter's contents.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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