BEIRUT — The Latest on developments in Syria (all times local):
The Lebanese army says the former deputy mayor of the border town of Arsal was killed while on a mediation mission with al-Qaida-linked militants in Syria.
The army said in a statement that Ahmad Fleeti was killed Saturday near the border town after al-Qaida-linked militants hit his vehicle with a missile.
Fleeti’s killing came a day after the militant Hezbollah group and Syrian troops launched a wide offensive to clear the border area of militants.
Faleeti was severely wounded losing one of his legs before dying in a hospital in Lebanon, security officials said on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
Syrian troops and members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah group have pressed in their offensive in border areas between the two countries capturing territories from Syrian insurgents.
The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media said Hezbollah fighters and Syrian troops captured several strategic hills Saturday in areas between the Lebanese town of Arsal and the Syrian village of Fleeta.
SCMM Syrian air force took part in operations adding that dozens of al-Qaida-linked militants have been killed or wounded since the offensive early Friday.
Pro-Hezbollah activists said on social media that about 15 Lebanese fighters have been killed in two days of fighting. The leading LBC TV gave the names of nine fighters whose funerals will be held in Beirut Saturday.
Hezbollah has fought in Syria’s civil war since 2013 backing President Bashar Assad’s forces.
The Syrian army command says it has ceased its military operations in several areas near the capital Damascus but warned it will retaliate against any attack by militants.
The command said in a statement carried by state TV that the cessation of operations began at noon local time Saturday. It gave no further details.
The announcement came hours after Russia’s Defense Ministry said an agreement has been reached with the Syrian opposition on the boundaries for a de-escalation zone for the East Ghouta area near the Syrian capital Damascus.
The Russian statement did not give details, but said the agreement includes the zone’s borders as well as routes for delivery of humanitarian aid and free movement of civilians.
Opposition activists said Ghouta was quiet after airstrikes early Saturday.
Syrian opposition activists say the rebel-held northwestern province of Idlib is calm after two main militant groups agreed to end days of fighting that killed scores.
The fighting between the ultraconservative Ahrar al-Sham and al-Qaida-linked Hay’at Tahrir al Sham — Arabic for Levant Liberation Committee — that is also known as HTS, broke out on Tuesday in several areas and focused on the Bab al-Hawa crossing at the border with Turkey.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday that calm has prevailed in Idlib since sunset Friday. It added that four days of fighting left 92 dead, including 15 civilians.
Ahrar al-Sham and HTC had issued statements saying a cease-fire agreement has been reached and both sides will free detainees.
They said Bab al-Hawa will be run by civilian administration.
Russia’s Defense Ministry says an agreement has been reached with the Syrian opposition on the boundaries for a de-escalation zone for the East Ghouta area near the Syrian capital Damascus.
A ministry statement Saturday did not give details, but said the agreement includes the zone’s borders as well as routes for delivery of humanitarian aid and free movement of civilians.
It said the agreement was reached in talks in Cairo, with Egyptian mediation.
The zone is one of four proposed in a plan approved in May by Russia and Iran, which support Syrian President Bashar Assad, and Turkey, which backs rebels fighting his forces.