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Syria cease-fire deal unravels as Trump, Putin prepare to meet

A southwest Syria de-escalation deal heralded by the Donald Trump administration as an example of successful US-Russian cooperation is unraveling as the US and Russian leaders prepare to meet.
Smoke rises above opposition held areas of Daraa during airstrikes by Syrian regime forces on June 26, 2018. - Russian-backed regime forces have for weeks been preparing an offensive to retake Syria's south, a strategic zone that borders both Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. (Photo by Mohamad ABAZEED / AFP)        (Photo credit should read MOHAMAD ABAZEED/AFP/Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON — As US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin tentatively prepare to meet next month, one of the few tangible successes of US-Russian cooperation since Trump came into office is on the verge of collapse. Syrian army forces, backed by Russian airstrikes, have been advancing against rebels in the southern Syrian city of Daraa, in violation of a southwest Syria de-escalation zone agreement that was negotiated by the United States, Russia and Jordan last year, and heralded until recently by the Trump administration as a major success.

While the State Department has repeatedly expressed deep concern over the escalation and called on Russia and the Syrian regime to honor the cease-fire, the Syrian military operation has advanced over the last week, causing some 45,000 people to flee, according to UN estimates.

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