US Tells Syrian Rebels They're on Their Own, as Russian Airplanes Attack

A woman walks past a destroyed car in Al Hirak in Daraa province in southern Syria

"As evidence, they also filmed ruined residential houses that actually had been destroyed in clashes between terrorist groups", the spokesman said, adding that the Syrians reported that these materials "are expected to be made public in Arab and Western news resources to back yet another batch of accusations against Russian Federation and receive more funding to Jabhat al-Nusra via non-government organizations acting in Idlib".

Since then, Moscow's warplanes - active in Syria since 2015 - had refrained from bombing rebel positions in the south.

It also reported rebel mortar fire killing two civilians, including a child, in government-held parts of Daraa city.

Syria's official news agency, SANA, confirmed the gains, noting the government forces targeted militant held area's with "precise strikes".

But violence began ratcheting up on Tuesday and has since left 25 civilians dead in regime and Russian bombardment on southern rebel zones, the Observatory said.

Russia, which along with Iran backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the seven-year civil war, has in other areas played a key role in the success of government forces' campaigns by providing key air cover.

The rebels around Daraa aren't waiting for the fight, however.

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They have few other options, with Jordan saying on Sunday it could not accept any more than the 650,000 Syrian refugees it is already hosting. It could secure the reopening of a major worldwide border crossing with Jordan.

Those same powers are in talks now to reach a negotiated settlement for the south that could head off a bloody regime assault.

In an interview with a Russian TV channel, Assad said fighting with US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces is not the best option for Damascus.

Military reinforcements have been streaming into the south despite its designation a year ago as a "de-escalation zone".

But they're also telling the FSA that their plans and decisions should not be based on any expectation of a United States military intervention on their behalf.

"We in the United States government understand the hard conditions you are facing and still advise the Russians and the Syrian regime not to undertake a military measure that violates the [de-escalation] zone", the message also said.

One opposition commander in the south who received the letter said it did not surprise him.

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