The Syrian regime continues to rain down air strikes on opposition-controlled areas of Daraa, Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has said. The death toll has risen to at least 70 since the Syrian regime's operation to regain ground in the south started around a week ago; 30 of those killed were civilians, according to the London-based war monitor.
Around 70 percent of Daraa is under control of opposition and rebel groups.
The Syrian regime seized a chunk of territory in the southwest, media run by Lebanon's Hezbollah and the Observatory said on Tuesday, the first major regime advance in an offensive near the Jordanian border.
TRT World's Francis Collings reports.
The capture of the area, including the town of Busra al Harir, cut across an opposition-held finger of territory in northeastern Daraa province, where the regime leader Bashar al Assad has pressed his assault despite US warnings.
At least 130 raids and barrel bombs have targeted Daraa, the Observatory said on Monday. Regime helicopters dropped barrel bombs on Daraa city for the first time in a year, the Observatory said.
TRT World's Sara Firth brings more Turkey's Gaziantep along Syrian border.
The same helicopters dropped leaflets on Jassim area in Daraa's northern countryside on Monday which claimed the Syrian regime was not fighting civilians but sacrificing its soldiers to fight "terrorists who wreak havoc" and "bring mistery." The pamphlet extolled a Syria before the war and asked for civilian support.
An AFP correspondent said the heavy bombardment pushed dozens of terrified families to flee their homes on foot or on the back of motorbikes to seek shelter in olive groves on the outskirts of the city.
Some families took refuge in small shelters or tents between the trees, the correspondent said.
Reclaiming the south
The regime, with the help of Russia, has been preparing an offensive to oust rebels and opposition forces from Syria's south, an area bordering Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
On the weekend, Syria's ally Russia bombarded the area for the first time in a year.
Syria's southwest region is strategically sensitive because of its proximity to the frontiers with both Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. the US and Russia, Assad's most powerful ally, last year agreed a "de-escalation" zone in the area that has helped to contain the violence there.
However, US has told Syrian opposition factions they should not expect military support to help resist the offensive, according to a copy of a message sent by Washington to the commanders of Free Syrian Army groups in the area.
Israeli missiles strike near Damascus airport
Syria's news agency SANA said two Israeli missiles hit in the vicinity of Damascus International Airport in the early hours of Tuesday morning, without giving further details.
The Observatory said Syrian air defence systems failed to intercept the missiles.
The Britain-based war monitor said an explosion heard at 2200 GMT (1 am local time on Monday) near the airport was caused by missiles fired by Israeli planes from the direction of the Golan Heights.
"It targeted weapons depots and warehouses belonging to non-Syrian militias loyal to the (Syrian) regime," the Observatory said, adding it had no information about casualties or damage.
Iran is a key ally of Assad and backs a number of militias, including Lebanon's Hezbollah, fighting in support of Assad.
Israel, concerned that Iran's growing presence in Syria is a threat to its safety, has struck dozens of Iranian and Iran-backed positions in Syria over the course of the seven-year conflict.
Asked about the report, an Israeli military spokesman said, "We do not comment on foreign reports."