Syrian Rebels Say Army Besieging Their Enclave in the Southern City of Deraa

(From Reuters)

The Syrian army and allied troops on Monday laid siege to the rebel-held enclave in Deraa and were poised to gain complete control of the city where the uprising against President Bashar Assad’s rule first erupted, rebels said.

Abu Shaima, a spokesman for the opposition in the southern Syrian city, said several thousand people were now encircled after the army pushed into a base west of the city without a fight.

“The army and its militias have besieged Deraa completely,” the rebel spokesman told Reuters.

The return of Deraa to Assad’s complete control would deal a big psychological blow to the opposition since the city came to epitomize the early peaceful protests against authoritarian rule that spread across Syria. The protests were violently crushed and paved the way for the bloody civil war.

A surrender deal was reached on Friday between Russian officers and rebel representatives to give up Deraa city along with other towns in the southern province that borders Jordan in another victory for Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies.

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