TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – The Syrian army and its allies made advances in the southwest that bring it closer to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights border, state television said.

The army, backed by a Russian air campaign, has been pushing into the edges of Quneitra province following an offensive last month that routed militants in adjoining Daraa province, Reuters reported.

The offensive has restored Syrian government control over a swathe of the southwest, strategic territory at the borders with Jordan and Israel.

The capture of a string of villages in a zone extending between the two southwestern provinces, announced by the army on Saturday, comes as a second group of militants and their relatives are expected to evacuate to northern Syria later in the day.

A deal negotiated by Russian officers with rebels in the Quneitra area last week allows safe passage to rebels opposed to a return to state rule, while offering others who decide to stay Russian guarantees against army encroachments in their own localities.

Russia’s Interfax news agency, citing the Russian military, confirmed the same number have been taken by bus to the Idlib zone.

Other phases of the agreement, which includes the handover of weapons and the entry of Russian military police to some villages, were expected to be implemented in the coming days, the report added.