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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 July 2018

UN says 45,000 flee rebel-held Deraa for Jordan 

Syrian government forces have encircled last opposition enclave in the south

Children ride on a truck with belongings in Deraa countryside, Syria June 22, 2018. REUTERS/Alaa Al Faqir
Children ride on a truck with belongings in Deraa countryside, Syria June 22, 2018. REUTERS/Alaa Al Faqir

At least 45,000 people have fled intensified fighting in the Syrian governorate of Deraa towards Jordan, as pro-regime forces close in on the opposition-held pocket, the United Nations said.

The upheaval came days after Jordan said it would not take any more refugees displaced by fighting. The Hashemite kingdom hosts about 1.3 million Syrians, half of whom are not registered with the UN.

The UN's World Food Programme said that it expects the number of displaced to double.

Sana and media outlets run by Syrian government Damascus ally Hezbollah said the Syrian army had taken control of the town of Busra Al Harir and the nearby Laja area.

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That cut across an opposition-held finger of territory in northeastern Deraa province, where President Bashar Al Assad has pressed his assault.

There was no statement from rebel groups about the government advances.

Syria's southwest region is sensitive because of its proximity to the frontiers with both Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The United States, and Russia – Mr Al Assad's most powerful ally – last year agreed a "de-escalation" zone in the area that has helped to contain the violence.

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