President Bashar al-Assad is set to recover control of the Syrian frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights in a major victory over rebels who have agreed to surrender terms, sources on both sides said yesterday.
Backed by Russian air power and unopposed by Assad's foreign adversaries, government forces have swept through southwestern Syria in the last month in one of the swiftest campaigns of the war, forcing surrender on massively outgunned rebels.
The campaign, which has already restored Assad's control over a critical portion of the frontier with Jordan, marks another milestone in his efforts to recover control of the country fractured by more than seven years of conflict.
There was no government confirmation of the Quneitra agreement. State media cited "reports" a deal had been reached. It was not clear when implementation would begin.
A copy of the agreement sent to Reuters by a rebel source said insurgents had negotiated the deal with Russia.
Echoing surrender terms imposed on rebels elsewhere, opposition fighters agreed to give up heavy and medium-sized weapons. Those wishing to stay in the area will "settle" their status with the state, meaning accepting a return of its rule.
Those who reject the deal will be given safe passage out to the opposition-held province of Idlib in the northwest, according to terms that were also reported by a military news outlet run by Lebanon's Hezbollah. The Iran-backed group Hezbollah is fighting in Syria in support of Assad.
Once the southwestern campaign is finished, Assad's focus will likely turn to the two remaining areas outside his grasp.