MOSCOW, July 3. /TASS/. Twenty-seven neighborhoods in Syria’s Southern de-escalation zone have come over to the government side over the past week, a spokesman for the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Parties in Syria (subordinated to the Russian defense minister) said on Tuesday.
"Thanks to negotiations held by officers of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Parties in Syria, as many as 27 settlements in the Southern de-escalation zone in the provinces of al-Quneitra, al-Suwayda and Daraa voluntarily joined the ceasefire and came over to the Syrian government’s side throughout the past week," he said.
According to the spokesman, efforts are being taken in these settlements to prepare for restoration works at infrastructure facilities and begin deliveries of humanitarian assistance. "Special attention is paid to efforts to create conditions to accommodate refugees returning from territories in the Southern de-escalation zone that are still controlled by terrorist groups, as well as from other Syrian regions and neighboring countries," the spokesman noted.
On June 18, Syrian government troops launched an operation against the terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra (outlawed in Russia) and other armed opposition groups affiliated with it to regain government control of the southern province of Daraa. By the end of the month, government troops liberated 70 towns and neighborhoods in the east and southeast of that province and are now approaching the Nasib checkpoint at the Syrian-Jordanian border.
In May 2017, the Syrian ceasefire guarantor nations, namely Russia, Iran and Turkey, signed a memorandum in Astana on setting up four de-escalation zones in Syria. In mid-September, they announced that all zones were functioning.
De-escalation zones include the Idlib Province, some parts of its neighboring areas in the Latakia, Hama and Aleppo Provinces north of the city of Homs, Eastern Ghouta, as well as the Daraa and al-Quneitra Provinces in southern Syria.