07/13/2018, 10.30
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Syrian army reconquers Deraa birthplace of anti-Assad revolt

It is the symbolic city of the civil war. For the first time since 2011, the area has returned to government control. Soldiers have planted the national flag in the central square. Up to 234 thousand people displaced due to fighting. Tens of thousands of inhabitants already returned to their homes.

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Syrian army entered Deraa yesterday afternoon, a town controlled by rebels in the south of the country and where protests against President Bashar al-Assad first broke out in March 2011, before turning into a proxy war with jihadist drifts. For the first time since the beginning of the conflict, the area returns under government control - administrative and military - while soldiers have planted the Syrian flag at the center of what was the cradle of the revolution.

Since 2012 Deraa was divided into two parts, one under loyalist control and one in the hands of armed opposition.

"Units of the Syrian army have entered Daraa al-Balad - the official Sana agency confirms in a note - and have raised the national flag in the main square". On 11 July, the government and rebels, with Russian mediation, reached an agreement to evacuate the militia from the city and transfer control to the military loyal to Damascus.

The rebels have agreed the surrender in exchange for a general amnesty and the guarantee of a safe passage to an area to the north, still in the hands of the anti-Assad troops. Since 19 June, the start date of the Russian-Syrian offensive, the army has gained control of much of the province of Deraa.

UN sources report that up to 234,000 people are still displaced due to fighting. 70% of these sought refuge in the neighboring province of Quneitra, near the border with the Golan Heights, controlled by Israel. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people, long-term refugees from across Jordan, have returned to their homes in Deraa.

Analysts and experts emphasize the "strategic" importance of the city, the capital of the homonymous governorate and the main access point to the border crossing with Jordan. Here began the protest against Assad in March 2011, following the arrest and torture of some young people "guilty" of having painted anti-government slogans on the walls of a school and inspired by the themes of the Arab Spring that broke out at the time in the region .

The war broke out in 2011 has led to the detahs of at least half a million people, causing the displacement of at least 13 million civilians and triggering the worst humanitarian crisis since the end of the Second World War.

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