A cease-fire brokered by Turkey and Russia two months ago is fraying along Syria’s southern border as rebel forces launch their largest offensive in the area in more than a year.

Monitors, activists and an aid group said fighting between opposition and pro-government forces raged for a fourth day Wednesday in the southern city of Daraa, pushing the number of dead and wounded past 60.

A nationwide cease-fire has largely held since late December, when President Bashar al-Assad’s forces recaptured the flash-point northern city of Aleppo. That victory brought what remained of the armed opposition to a crisis point, bolstering the hand of its Turkish backers to negotiate a truce with one of the Syrian government’s staunchest allies, Russia.

 But rebel guns had been largely silent in southern Syria for more than a year, constrained by infighting and the directives of the forces’ powerful Jordanian backers across the border.

In an unusual development for Syria’s knotty conflict, the rebel offensive in Daraa appeared to have been launched without international support. The fighters began pushing through the southwestern district of Manshiyah on Sunday, detonating car bombs and at least one powerful tunnel bomb.


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Featured image courtesy of AFP.