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Syrian army hoists national flag in Dara'a city

The handout picture released by Syria's official SANA news agency on July 12, 2018 shows people waving their national flag near the city council after government forces recaptured the city of Tafas in Dara'a countryside. (via AFP)

The Syrian army has raised the national flag over the southern city of Dara'a as a major counter-terrorism operation nears an end, with foreign-backed militants leaving the region in negotiated surrender deals.

State television reported on Thursday that the Syrian military had managed to enter the militant-held part of Dara'a and hoist the flag near the city's post office.

"Syrian army units enter Dara'a al-Balad and raise the national flag in the main square," the official SANA news agency said.

Dara'a city was the birthplace of the sedition that began in March 2011 before morphing into a foreign-backed militancy that continues to this day. 

Earlier on Thursday, militant officials and witnesses said a Russian military delegation had entered Dara'a's terrorist-controlled area and begun negotiations over the region's handover to the Syrian government.

Two armored vehicles with senior Russian officers entered the al- Shayah area and began talks with commanders from the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) on implementing the terms of the surrender deal.

Since June 19, the Syrian army has been conducting the operation in Dara'a, which borders Jordan and the Israeli-occupied side of Syria’s Golan Heights.

Dara’a’s return to the Syrian government control would cut the much-reported collaboration between anti-Damascus militants and Israel which has beefed up its military presence in the Golan Heights in recent days.

Syrian forces are seen in the Nasib border crossing with Jordan in Dara'a, Syria, July 7, 2018. (Photo by Reuters)

In a bid to minimize civilian casualties, both Damascus and Moscow have been initiating talks with militants to make them hand back the areas they control to the Damascus government without fighting.

A militant official said the Takfiri elements, who are still holed up in Dara'a, are in talks with Russian officers to secure a safe passage to the terrorist-controlled areas in northern Syria.

The discussions are expected to resume on Thursday.

Latest estimates say some 2,000 militants are still holed up in Dara'a city, along with their families.

Syrian army retakes Dara'a cities

Separately on Thursday, Syrian forces liberated the cities of Mazirib, Enkhel, Kafr Shams and Tafas, all situated in Dara'a Province.

Syria's official SANA news agency reported that Tafas residents had welcomed the Syrian army units and participated in a ceremony to hoist the national flag over the city council.

Terrorists capture southern village

However, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said that a Daesh-affiliated terrorist group had seized a village in southern Syria from militants who had agreed to hand back the area under their control to Damascus.

SOHR head Rami Abdel Rahman said Jaish Khaled bin Walid terrorists captured the village of Hit near the Jordanian border "after violent clashes."

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