'Syria militants to resume talks with Russia'

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South Syrian rebels said on Friday they had agreed to cease fire and start handing over heavy weapons in a deal mediated by Russian Federation that will restore state sovereignty over areas they hold in Deraa province after a fierce government offensive. The Israeli military said it had struck a Syrian army post.

Syrian government forces have seized control of the Nassib border crossing with Jordan, while south Syrian rebels said they agreed to cease fire and start handing over heavy weapons.

Government forces in south Syria have advanced along the Jordanian border, seizing a string of villages.

The deal is to be rolled out across rebel-held areas of Deraa in phases, but there is no timeline as yet, said Abu Shaima, spokesman for an operations room for rebels under the Free Syrian Army banner.

Ahead of the talks, armoured vehicles and a tank with a Russian flag were seen heading towards the Nasib Border Crossing between Jordan and Syria, several witnesses near the crossing said.

With the help of Russian air power, the government's assault has swept into swathes of Daraa over the past two weeks, shrinking one of Syria's last rebel strongholds.

The UN refugee agency has urged Jordan to open its borders to Syrians fleeing their homes.

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A brief collapse of the talks on July 4 ushered in a blitz of Russian and Syrian air strikes, barrel bombs, and missiles, following a pattern Russia and Syria have pursued repeatedly to regain control over rebel territory.

Southwest Syria was declared a de-escalation zone a year ago by Russia, Jordan and the United States.

Within 24 hours of the resumed bombing, rebels said they wanted to return to negotiations, with the talks focusing on their pullout from the territory they still control in Daraa's western countryside and the southern half of the provincial capital.

"The rebel delegation is on its way to the meeting", Hussein Abazeed, spokesman for the south's joint rebel command, told AFP mid-morning Friday.

Taking back the Nassib crossing paves the way for Assad to reopen a trade artery vital to his hopes of reviving the Syrian economy and starting to rebuild government-held areas.

"Cars carrying Russian military police and representatives of the Syrian government's border administration entered the Nassib crossing without a fight" said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. It killed six civilians on Thursday, including a woman and four children, according to the Britain-based Observatory.

On Thursday, the United Nations Security Council convened in an urgent closed-door meeting to discuss the south, but Russian Federation blocked the council from adopting a statement.

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