The unrest spread and the crackdown intensified. Opposition supporters took up arms, first to defend themselves and later to rid their areas of security forces. The violence rapidly escalated and the country descended into a civil war that has left more than 350,000 people dead and displaced 11 million others. What led to the rebels surrendering in Deraa? South-western Syria had been relatively calm in the past year because of a “de-escalation” agreement brokered by the US and Jordan, which support the opposition, and Russia, a staunch ally of the government. Image caption The Russian military negotiated the ceasefire with rebel commanders in Deraa province But Mr Assad set his sights on regaining full control of the region after defeating rebels in the Eastern Ghouta, outside the capital Damascus, in April. Troops and allied militiamen, backed by Russian warplanes, advanced swiftly after launching an offensive just over three weeks ago. Intense air, artillery and rocket strikes weakened the rebels, who were informed by the US that it would not intervene militarily on their behalf, and prompted more than 300,000 civilians to flee their homes and head towards Jordan and the Golan. When the Jordanian and Israeli government refused to open their borders, the UN warned of a humanitarian crisis.
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