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South Syria offensive rages as thousands flee

Thousands of Syrians were forced to leave their homes in southern Syria, where government forces have escalated the offensive to retake the strategic rebel-held area.
People walk as they hold their belongings in Deraa countryside, Syria in this handout released on June 28, 2018. SANA/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE - RC1C2E612270
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ALEPPO — Battles have been raging since June 15 between the Syrian regime forces and the armed opposition in Lajat in Daraa’s eastern countryside in southwestern Syria. The Syrian regime forces, backed by Iraqi militias and fighters from Lebanese Hezbollah, are trying to gain military control over the area after breaking the de-escalation agreement that was ratified under US-Russian-Jordanian auspices in 2017.

The regime forces and its allies, supported by foreign fighters and Russian air cover, succeeded in seizing Busra al-Harir and Melihit al-Atash June 26 following violent clashes with the armed military factions that lasted several days. The battles involved intense shelling from the regime’s military air force with 500 air raids, while regime helicopters dropped 35 barrel bombs on Busra al-Harir before its seizure.

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