Syrian rebels pinned down in a strategic area where the Israeli and Lebanese borders meet with Syria were handed an ultimatum by the Syrian army and its Iranian-backed militia allies to either surrender or face certain military defeat, rebels said on Tuesday.
The Syrian army backed by local militias financed and equipped by Iran alongside Druze fighters from the area have been escalating a fierce assault against Sunni rebels in an enclave in the foothills of Mount Hermon, close to both the Israeli and Lebanese borders.
“They were given 72 hours to surrender with fighters to go to Idlib or those who want to stay have to reach a settlement,” said Ibrahim al-Jebawi, a Free Syrian Army (FSA) official familiar with the situation on the ground.
Another rebel official who asked not to be named said they were told either to “surrender or a military solution.”
The rebels have now been left encircled in Beit Jin, their main stronghold after losing strategic hills and farms around it this week after over two months of near daily shelling and aerial strikes.
Iran-backed Lebanon’s Hezbollah’s media unit said insurgents had agreed to negotiate surrender terms and said negotiations had already begun over their evacuation in the next few days to rebel-held Idlib.