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Escalation in Southern Syria amid Demands to Amend Truce | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A Syrian regime forces’ MiG-23 fighter-bomber drops a payload during a reported air strike in the rebel-held area of Qabun, east of the capital Damascus, on May 6, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / AMER ALMOHIBANY

Beirut, Tel Aviv- Syria’s southeastern areas witnessed military escalation on Tuesday as opposition factions said they brought down a Syrian jet, only few days after regime forces and their allies reached the Jordanian border, amid requests to amend the “southern truce.”

Saad al-Haj, spokesman for the Osoud al Sharqiya rebel group, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the rebels shot down a Russian-built MiG in the eastern countryside of Souweida using anti-aircraft guns.

Al-Haj said that the pilot is alive and is in custody of the Free Syrian Army after falling in a parachute before his jet crashed.

“Rebels are interrogating him to get the needed information, and learn his name and military rank. Later, a statement including all the details will be issued,” he said.

Damascus also confirmed the news saying that one of its jets crashed in southern Syria but did not say what caused the crash.

The development coincides with battles launched by opposition factions in the desert, where regime forces are advancing with the help of extensive air coverage.

Meanwhile, an Israeli security delegation leaves to Washington next week to conduct talks with high-ranking officials at the White House and with the US security apparatus.

A military source said that the delegation would also tackle the truce agreement in southern Syria and its repercussions, adding that “Israel is not pleased with the current agreement that the US and Russia are drafting, because it fails to respect its interests.”

The sources added: “It is very normal that Israel seeks to change it.”

Meanwhile, Russia is working with opposition factions to draft a new truce agreement in the eastern Ghouta of Damascus as regime forces continue to pound the area, violating a ceasefire agreement signed with opposition factions last month.