UPDATE 1355 GMT: The Israel Defense Forces say they delivered several dozen tons of humanitarian aid to Syrians fleeing the Russia-regime assault in southern Syria.
The delivery included about 300 tents, 13 tons of food, 15 tons of baby food, three pallets of medical supplies, and 30 tons of clothes and shoes.
About 50,000 people — among up to 150,000 who have fled Daraa Province in the past 10 days — are reportedly now near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
The IDF said it will likely continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the “several thousand Syrians living in deteriorating conditions, without access to water, electricity, food sources or basic necessities”. However, it warned that it “will not allow Syrian refugees into Israeli territory and will continue to act to protect Israel’s security interests”.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman echoed, “[We are] prepared to provide any humanitarian assistance to civilians, women and children…[but] we will not accept any Syrian refugees into our territory.”
UPDATE 1345 GMT: Turkey has threatened to leave the Astana political process with Russia and Iran if the pro-Assad offensive on Daraa Province is not halted.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that the US and Russia have a duty to maintain the “de-escalation zone” agreed last July:
The regime has attacked this area. Who had an agreement? The US and Russia. Now they both have a responsibility and they have to stop [the attacks]. If all agreements stop working, then the political process, the results of Geneva, Astana, and the Sochi summit will lose their importance and meaning.
Since 2016, Russia, Turkey, and Iran have taken out the political process, sidelining the US, with talks in Kazahstan’s capital Astana. The discussions have not aimed as much at a resolution as at giving cover for the Assad regime’s capture of parts of Syria and the Turkish intervention, alongside rebels, in the northwest.
Earlier this month there were purported talks on a new Syrian Constitution, under UN auspices, but these produced little amid Assad regime objections.
UPDATE 1330 GMT: The Kremlin says it knows of no substance for claims by diplomats that Donald Trump will propose US withdrawal from Syria to Vladimir Putin.
I have no idea what the CNN report is based on, or if there is anything factual behind this report. We know nothing about it and it makes you wonder.
They say Trump is going to negotiate this issue. We know nothing about what Trump is going to discuss. There can be no doubts that Syria will be covered comprehensively at the summit, though. A rather detailed discussion on Syria is anticipated.
Donald Trump, who favors a withdrawal of all US personnel from Syria, may make the proposal to Russia’s Vladimir Putin in their summit in mid-July.
“Diplomatic sources” also indicated that Trump will tell Putin of US acceptanceTru of a current pro-Assad offensive, with Russia providing essential airstrikes, of the opposition area in southern Syria.
Trump put the proposals to visiting King Abdullah II of Jordan earlier this week. Jordan has been an ally of the Americans. Initially, the two countries provide Syrian rebels in the south with support, but limited and then withdrew this from 2015. Jordan has also closed its border to any further Syrian civilians, including those displaced by the Assad offensive in Daraa Province that has forced up to 150,000 people to flee in the past 10 days.
Trump said in March that the US will “be coming out of Syria like very soon”. He was pushed back by the Pentagon, which told the media that more US personnel would be put into northern Syria, where the US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have taken territory from the Islamic State.
But Trump froze $200 million in US funds for “stabilization operations” to secure the area after ISIS’s defeat and in the face of attempts by the Assad regime to take control.
National Security Advisor John Bolton was in Moscow on Wednesday to establish the date for the Trump-Putin summit on July 16 and to discuss other matters. He discussed Syria, including with Putin, but no details were given of the talks.
Similarly, US officials have said that Trump and Putin will discuss the Syrian conflict when they confer on July 16, but have not provided specifics.
However, the “diplomatic sources” said Trump will confirm that he will accept the pro-Assad reoccupation of Daraa and Quneitra Provinces, along the Jordanian border and near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
The State Department had said four times since late May that the US would take “firm” measures against any pro-Assad attacks. But two weeks ago, just before bombardment escalated on June 19, US officials told Southern Front rebels that they could not expect any American assistance.
American officials have remained silent since Russian warplanes, necessary for any pro-Assad advance, began bombing across Daraa last weekend. Moscow confirmed its bombing, breaking a “de-escalation zone” agreed with the US last July, on Monday.
The diplomatic sources said Trump is seeking Russian assurances that the Assad regime wil not massacre rebels, allowing them to leave the area, and that he wants Moscow to keep Iranian-supported forces out of the area.
But they expressed doubts about whether Russia could exclude Hezbollah and the Iranian-backed foreign militia, even if Moscow wanted to do so. They also questioned how the surge of displaced would be addressed.
Local officials said more than 120 people have been killed in the pro-Assad attacks since June 9. Officials and activists said at least 20 were slain in “uncountable” strikes on Thursday, as pro-Assad units finally made significant gains in eastern Daraa Province with the aid of the Russian attacks.
Civilians displaced from #Nawa city in Daraa suburbs due to Syrian regime forces and its allies heavy bombing:
Image showing civilians displaced from Nawa city in Daraa governorate western suburbs to safer areas due to heavy bombing by Syrian regime forces and its allies,June 28. pic.twitter.com/BSaJVYG3E0
— Nedal Alamari (@nedalalamari) June 29, 2018
Destruction of the hospital in al-Musayfah in eastern Daraa Province: