Thousands return home following ceasefire in Syria

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Damascus, July 7 (IANS) Thousands of displaced people have returned to Syria after negotiations brought about a pause in hostilities following a week-long government offensive aimed at regaining the territory from armed opposition, a UK-based watchdog said on Saturday.

Russian mediators acting on behalf of the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad negotiated a ceasefire with the armed militias in Daraa province, where the UN estimated that some 300,000 people were forced to leave their homes due to intense fighting involving heavy airstrike and artillery campaigns, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

However, the war monitor added that thousands of others whose towns and villages were captured by pro-government troops were reluctant to return for fear of reprisals, reports Efe news.

The SOHR said smoke columns could be seen rising from burning properties the town of Saida, located to the east of Daraa city and was re-captured by government forces this week.

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For its part, the Free Syrian Army opposition central command in the region released a statement saying the protection of civilian life was imperative.

Around 159 civilians have been killed by clashes in Daraa since the start of the government offensive, the SOHR said.

–IANS

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