Russia and Syrian rebel groups have reached an interim ceasefire agreement in Syria’s southern province of Daraa after weeks of violence in the area, Free Syrian Army spokesman Ibrahim Jabawi told CNN on Friday.
Fighting sparked by a Russian-backed Syrian regime offensive has displaced more than 320,000 people in Daraa. according to the United Nations’ high commissioner for refugees, or UNHCR. The military campaign was launched some two weeks ago to recapture the southern province, near the border with Jordan.
Daraa is one of the last remaining rebel strongholds in Syria. A string of military victories over the last year has helped Syrian President Bashar al-Assad recapture large swathes of territory. Earlier this year, Assad expelled all rebel fighters from the greater Damascus area.
The Daraa agreement will allow hundreds of thousands of displaced Syrians to return home, Jabawi said.
“We are dealing one step at a time,” he said. “This is the start, and negotiations will continue.”
The agreement also grants Russian military police control of the border area between Jordan and Syria. Shortly after the deal was reached, Syrian Arab Republic flags were raised over the Naseeb border crossing to Jordan, according to state-run news agency SANA.
About 6.2 million Syrians have been displaced since the conflict began in 2011, and a further 6.3 million have fled the country as refugees, according to a recent UNHCR report.
The UN Children’s Fund said Friday it had received reports of a family with four children killed in the violence in southern Syria. In three weeks of fighting, 65 children reportedly have been killed, according to the group, known as UNICEF.
The United Nations refugee agency called on Jordan to open its borders after the regime offensive led to one of the biggest waves of displacement since the start of the seven-year conflict.
Jordan and Israel have provided aid to the displaced but refuse to allow Syrian refugees inside their countries. Jordan already is hosting 1.3 million Syrian refugees but closed its borders in 2016 after an ISIS suicide attack killed six of its border guards.
CNN’s Jomana Karadsheh and Spencer Feingold contributed to this report.