Free Syria Army (Syrian Rebels) leaders report receiving a letter, seemingly from the USA government, stating that the U.S. won't violate the "de-escalation" zone, and they should not expect any support from the USA in their battle against Assad's forces who are trying to retake the region.
Syrian government forces had so far made heavy use of artillery and rockets in the current assault, and Russian warplanes that were critical to the recovery of other rebel-held areas had not been deployed until now.
The remarks came after the Russian Defense Ministry reported that at least five Syrian soldiers were killed and 19 others injured in an al-Nusra Front attack on government forces in the southern de-escalation zone.
A total of 23 civilians have been killed in opposition areas since the escalation began on Tuesday, according to the Observatory.
After securing Damascus, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is keen on recapturing the country's south, but key parts of it fall under a "de-escalation zone" agreed a year ago by the US, Jordan, and Russian Federation.
Escalating bombardment has displaced some 12,000 people from rebel towns in Daraa's eastern countryside, according to the Observatory. Some are going deeper into the rebel territory, but many are just fleeing to the Jordanian border, hoping to wait the fighting out in relative safety.
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Even as the regime hints at a looming assault, global powers are holding talks aimed at reaching a negotiated settlement for Syria's south.
Assad said his troops would have "no choice" but to take the south by force if those talks failed.
His troops have already recaptured two "de-escalation zones" this year: Eastern Ghouta outside Damascus and parts of the central Homs province.
"We in the United States government understand the hard conditions you are facing and still advise the Russians and the Syrian regime not to undertake a military measure that violates the [de-escalation] zone", the message also said.
A copy of a message sent by Washington to heads of Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups, which was seen by Reuters, said the USA government wanted to make clear that "you should not base your decisions on the assumption or expectation of a military intervention by us".
One opposition commander in the south who received the letter said it did not surprise him.