TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Syrian troops and their allies recaptured a string of villages straddling the southern provinces of Daraa and Quneitra as they edge closer to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
The advancements come as more militants and their families departed southern Syria on Saturday as part of an evacuation deal reached with the government last week.
The first convoy of 55 buses, carrying some 2,800 people, arrived in northern Syria's opposition-held Idlib province on Saturday after rebels in Quneitra agreed to hand over medium to heavy weaponry and surrender the strategic area, Al Jazeera reported.
Another 48 buses left Quneitra on Saturday evening as part of the ongoing evacuations, with a final convoy expected to exit on Sunday before Syrian forces assume full control of the territory.
A Syrian commander said the army's victory in southwestern Syria forced Israel to accept the Syrian army's return to the old 1974 armistice lines.
"The Israelis has been forced into submission … the file of the south has ended in favor of the Syrian army," the commander was quoted as saying by Reuters, adding that he expected Quneitra would be completely recaptured in the coming days.
On July 6, the Syrian army established full control over the town of al-Naima on the eastern outskirts of Daraa city after rooting out the last hotbeds of terrorist groups there.
On July 12, the army raised the national flag over the southern city as a major counter-terrorism operation neared an end with foreign-backed militants leaving the region in negotiated surrender deals.
Daraa city was the birthplace of the sedition that began in March 2011 before morphing into a foreign-backed militancy that continues to this day.
Since June 19, the Syrian army has been conducting the operation in Daraa, which borders Jordan and the Israeli-occupied side of Syria’s Golan Heights.