Assad's forces retake Daraa, birthplace of Syria's uprising

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Measures to implement the so-called reconciliation deal for rebel-held parts of the city had not yet been implemented, it said.

"Syrian army units enter Dara'a al-Balad and raise the national flag in the main square", the official SANA news agency said.

That deal come after a ceasefire announced last week stemmed almost three weeks of regime bombardment on the symbolic wider province of the same name, which borders Jordan.

Dara'a city was the birthplace of the sedition that began in March 2011 before morphing into a foreign-backed militancy that continues to this day.

A senior Russian military delegation entered the rebel-held area of the city on Thursday and began negotiations over its handover to state rule, rebel officials and a witness said.

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Zaizun lies near a sliver of southern territory controlled by Jaish Khaled bin Walid, a jihadist faction that has pledged allegiance to IS, which is not bound by the deal between the rebels and the government.

In a bid to minimize civilian casualties, both Damascus and Moscow have been initiating talks with militants to make them hand back the areas they control to the Damascus government without fighting. Rebels in Deraa were seeking to withdraw with Russian guarantees. The talks were expected to resume on Thursday.

Rebels are pinning hopes on the Russian military police to prevent the army from taking revenge and entering specific areas after complaints of widespread looting and some arrests in other towns in Daraa province they have gained control.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the explosion hit Zaizun, a village in the western countryside of Daraa province which rebels agreed in recent days to hand over to regime control.

"At least 27 regime forces and allied fighters, including eight officers, were killed in fierce clashes and shelling in the village of Al-Ateira", said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

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