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Assad regime strikes rebel-held Nawa in southern Syria Open in fullscreen

The New Arab & agencies

Assad regime strikes rebel-held Nawa in southern Syria

The regime has retaken more than 90 percent of Daraa province. [Getty]

Date of publication: 18 July, 2018

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The Syrian regime launched intensive airstrikes on the city of Nawa in the southern Daraa province late on Tuesday, with reports of multiple casualties.
The Syrian regime launched intensive airstrikes on the city of Nawa in the southern Daraa province late on Tuesday, with reports of multiple casualties.

Nawa is home to around 100,000 people and is the largest rebel-held urban centre in Daraa, where the regime has in less than a month retaken more than 90 percent of the southern province.

The aerial bombardments came just hours after thousands of displaced Syrians who had taken shelter along the Israeli border had returned to the city.

Local sources told The New Arab that at least 19 people were killed. A hospital in the city was also destroyed during the bombings, residents said.

"It's like doomsday," said Malek al Ghawi in a text message sent to Reuters, adding there were "many corpses in the streets and everyone is unable to pull them."

"We don't know where to take the injured, the town has been burnt," Abu Hashem, another resident said.

After regime forces launched a ferocious offensive on 19 June, Russia pressured rebels to hand over eastern parts of the province in early July, and the provincial capital last week. 

But opposition fighters in Nawa have resisted.

Other towns in the west of the province have also joined the deal.

"Negotiations were ongoing Wednesday towards Nawa joining the reconciliation deal" with the regime for the wider province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

A ceasefire deal announced earlier this month between the regime and rebels in Daraa province did not include jihadists.

On Wednesday, Russian air strikes and regime barrel bombs targeted hills outside Nawa held by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group, led by Syria's former Al-Qaeda affiliate.

Heavy air strikes also pounded a southwestern corner of the province controlled by the Islamic State group.

After retaking most of Daraa, regime forces on Sunday opened a new front in the neighbouring province of Quneitra, adjacent to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Earlier on Tuesday, 15 civilians were killed in strikes in both provinces, including 14 in Ain al-Tina village on the administrative border with Quneitra.

Syria's conflict has killed more than 350,000 people since it started in 2011 with a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.

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