Syria continued an offensive on rebel-held areas in the country’s southwest on Tuesday. The U.N. has said more than 45,000 people have been displaced by the fighting in Daraa province since a government offensive began on June 19. Also on Tuesday, Jordan indicated it would not open its borders to accept Syrians fleeing the attacks, saying it was “at capacity.”
“Jordan engaging all parties to end fighting, protect civilians in south [Syria],”Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi tweeted on Tuesday. “Host to 1.3 [million] Syrians, we are at capacity. We’ll keep doing all we can for them. But we can’t host more.”
A commander for the forces that back the Syrian government said one of the goals of the attacks in the southwest was to take control of the Nassib crossing, an international border crossing between Syria and Jordan that has been held by rebel forces since 2015, Reuters reported.
The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Syrian government forces had taken the town of Busra al-Harir in northeastern Daraa. “At least 200 air strikes and 150 barrel bombs targeted Bursa al-Harir this morning as government forces moved in on the village,” according to Jihad Hamza, a pro-opposition activist in Daraa.
A “de-escalation” agreement to cease fighting between rebels and Syrian forces in certain zones in southwest Syria, including Daraa, had been negotiated and signed last July by the U.S., Russia and Jordan. Syria’s offensive is in de-escalation zones areas.
Since Syria began its southwest offensive on June 19, at least 41 people have been killed and more than 100 wounded, according to Lawrence Adam, a journalist with the Nabaa media group. Adam said at least 27 of the dead were civilians.
Rebels from the Free Syrian Army showed Reuters a message from U.S. officials that said rebels should not expect U.S. military support against the government offensive. A U.S. State Department official told Reuters, “We are concerned by developments in southwest Syria, particularly the intensification of Russian airstrikes and pro-regime ground attacks. This is once again an example of Russia violating arrangements it has entered into with no regard for civilian lives.”
A spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said an airstrike had put a hospital out of operation and that five of its aid facilities in the south were out of service during the government attacks.
State media reported that government forces had been bombing “terrorist posts” northeast of Daraa.
The Observatory and Syrian state news agency SANA reported that two Israeli missiles had hit near Damascus airport overnight Monday. An Israeli military spokesman declined to comment on the reports. Syrian rebels currently control territory along the border with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. One goal of the Syrian government offensive is to retake that area, according to Al Jazeera.
The Syrian civil war has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions since its start in 2011. Syrian government forces took control of Eastern Ghouta in April after it began an offensive there in February.
Nearly all the northern border with Turkey and some of eastern Syria remain controlled by non-government groups, Reuters reported.