Syrian army recaptures main border crossing with Jordan

World Today

SYRIA-CONFLICT-BORDERSSyrian government soldiers ride in an army truck near the Nassib border crossing with Jordan in the southern province of Daraa on July 6, 2018, after they regained control over it from rebel forces. The Nassib crossing was overrun by rebels in April 2015, sealing off the regime’s crucial trade route with neighbouring Jordan, which calls it Jaber. (AFP PHOTO / Mohamad ABAZEED)

Syrian government forces say they’ve recaptured the country’s main border crossing with Jordan. This, after Damascus and rebel forces, struck a deal with Russian help.

CGTN’s Alaa Ebrahim went to the border area where Syrian families have started to return.

Follow Alaa Ebrahim on Twitter @Alaa_Ebrahim_tv

It has been three years since rebels took control of the Nasib border crossing with Jordan.

But a lot has changed. Russia became involved in the conflict, and the Syrian army was able to regain control of most of the country – and its borders.

The Syrian army entered the crossing this week after Russia brokered a deal with the rebels.

The agreement allows militants wanting to leave a safe way out. It also allows safe passage for them and their families to return home. Russian military police have been deployed to guarantee the deal.

While the Syrian army is now in control, there were signs the rebels were prepared for a long battle.

One basement had been turned into a weapons storage facility, holding millions of bullets.

“Once we got our orders earlier this month, we launched a military operation,” explained Colonel Younes of the Syrian army. “But we found that the terrorist lines were falling apart. They lost any kind of popular support in the towns they were controlling,” he added.

Just outside the Jordanian border is the strategic town of Saida, where rebels had tried to make a last stand.

“We attacked from three different directions, and we were able to take the town after intense fighting,” said Housam Azaair, a field commander with the Syrian army. “The town is the main link between the western and the eastern countryside of Daraa Province and the supply line into other strongholds. The rest should be very easy.”

As Syrian air force helicopters flew low, soldiers on the ground celebrated the recapture of Daraa Province and an end to two weeks of fierce fighting.

When the road to Jordan is reopened, many hope the trade routes that brought Syria so much wealth before the war will once again flow with commerce.