Syrian army advances against terrorists in Dara’a; Israel raises alert in Golan

The Syrian army has managed to wrest control over several towns and villages in the strategic southern Dara’a Province, leading Israel to raise its alert level in the bordering Golan Heights.

Syria’s official SANA news agency reported on Friday that the army had retaken al-Herak, Rakham, al-Soura, Alma, al-Mliha al-Sharqia and al-Mliha al-Gharbia in Dara’a countryside, killing scores of Takfiri terrorists.

The Syrian military’s engineering units later started to dismantle mines and improvised explosive devices planted by the militants before they fled to neighboring areas, the report said.

A Syrian field commander told SANA that the army would continue its operations in Dara’a until the eradication of terrorism.

Separately, SANA reported that foreign-backed militants in the villages of Um Walad, Jbib and al-Aslaha in Dara’a’s eastern countryside had agreed to lay down arms and reconcile with the Syrian government.

A Syrian military commander, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, stressed that the army’s gains had left the anti-Damascus militants with “no choice” but to surrender.

“The terrorist groups are heading towards settlement and reconciliation,” he added.

Moreover, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) confirmed that as many as eight towns were in reconciliation negotiations.

“There are talks between the Russians on one side and opposition factions on the other, through local mediators, over the fate of eight towns in Dara’a’s countryside,” the UK-based monitoring group said.

SOHR head Rami Abdel-Rahman said Russia’s military police were leading the discussions for each town separately. “Most of them appear willing to reconcile” with the Syrian government and hand over their heavy weapons, he said.

The recapture of Dara’a is highly important because it borders the occupied Golan Heights which Israel has used to treat wounded militants for years.

The territory’s return to the Syrian government control would cut the much-reported collaboration between Israel and militants and deal a blow to Tel Aviv’s plans to annex the Golan Heights.

Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War and has continued to occupy two-thirds of the strategically-important territory ever since, in a move that has never been recognized by the international community.

The Tel Aviv regime has built tens of illegal settlements in the area since its occupation and has used the region as a launch pad for conducting airstrikes against Syrian military positions.

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