Syrian jets hit south in a first since last year’s truce

By Middle East Affairs

Government jets hit rebel-held towns Monday in Syria’s south for the first time since the area was “de-escalated” last year, Reuters reports.

At least eight raids struck the rebel-held towns of Busr al-Harir, Hrak, al-Gharaiya al-Gharbiya and al-Sowara in rural areas in eastern Deraa province in southern Syria, according to the news agency.

It also pointed out that rebels in the south have feared the army would return once it gained momentum in the north and other areas.

That northern success has become more evident lately as the government has bombarded rebel-held Eastern Ghouta since mid-February.

The Deraa province in the south is one of three regions in the country that holds large populations under the control of rebels. The other two areas Eastern Ghouta and in the north near the Turkish border.

According to Reuters, “One rebel commander said the strikes in the south appeared to be a warning to rebels under the Free Syrian Army (FSA) umbrella who were planning to wage an offensive in coming days to relieve pressure on their comrades in Eastern Ghouta.”

The British-based monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced Monday that more than 500,000 people have died in the seven-year civil war in Syria. Of those, only about 350,000 have been identified by name.

(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Peter Graff)

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