Syrian rebel fighters announced on Friday, July 6, that they had reached an interim ceasefire agreement with Russian forces in Daraa province. The agreement, announced by a Free Syrian Army (FSA) representative, comes after fighting in southwestern Syria killed dozens of people and displaced some 320,000 others in Daraa province and after Syrian rebels rejected a ceasefire deal with the Russians days prior. Under the deal, rebel forces will relinquish their heavy weapons and the Syrian army will withdraw from four villages in eastern Daraa province. It will also reportedly give control of the Syria-Jordan border area to Russian forces, and guarantee the evacuation of rebels opposed to the deal to opposition-held areas in the north of the country. Despite the agreement, additional fighting is expected in southwestern Syria over the near- to medium-term.
Southwestern Syria had been relatively calm for the past year because of a "de-escalation" agreement brokered by the US, Jordan, and Russia. The US has yet to respond to the Syrian government's violation of the agreement, despite a previous commitment to take "firm and appropriate measures." The Syrian government forces' offensive to recapture Daraa and Quneitra provinces, which began June 19, has reportedly killed at least 159 civilians, including 33 children, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).
Syria remains enmeshed in a complex civil war that started between the Assad government and opposition forces in March 2011. Today, the conflict in Syria involves many parties, including the Syrian government, the Russian government, the Iranian government, the Turkish government, a US-led coalition, and numerous armed groups on the ground (including the Islamic State) with competing goals.
Due to extremely poor security conditions, Western governments generally advise against all travel to Syria, with some banning travel to the country. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to any travel to Syria.
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