More than 200,000 Syrians displaced due to fighting in the southern province of Daraa since mid-June have returned to their homes, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Monday.   

The Britain-based watchdog said the people had previously feared reprisal from government forces but had returned to their homes in the country's south after Russian troops guaranteed their safety. Ali Al-Zaatari, the UN resident coordinator in Syria, welcomed Monday the Syrian government's request to the United Nations in Syria to provide humanitarian assistance to thousands of civilian families in the affected rural areas of southern Syria.   

"The United Nations is ready to start its humanitarian response immediately and mobilize urgent humanitarian assistance convoys to respond to the basic needs of civilians in the provinces of Daraa,  Quneitra and Sweida," he said, adding that the situation in the  southern areas is "dire."  

 "We look forward to the quick return of essential government services, with focus on responding to the needs of civilians to enable them to regain their sense of security and stability and allow them to return to normal life as soon as possible," the UN official said.    Last month, Syrian forces, with the backing of Russian air cover, started a massive ground and air offensive to retake Daraa from rebels.  

 The onslaught forced more than 320,000 people to flee and settle in makeshift shelters near the Jordanian border and in the Golan Heights.  The UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in Jordan, Anders Pedersen, said on Sunday that around 200 displaced Syrians were still at a main crossing on the border with Jordan.  On Friday, in a Russian-brokered deal, the rebels in Daraa agreed to hand over their weapons in a major victory for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.   

The deal coincided with Syrian government forces taking over the southern Nassib crossing on the border with Jordan, which rebels controlled for more than three years.  Meanwhile, the Syrian army has continued to deploy along the Syrian-Jordan border. The observatory said that government forces have also made advances in areas under rebel control in the western countryside of Daraa, here they now control Tel Shehab, Zayzounsoun and Heit.    "The regime forces are now for the first time very close to areas with the Khaled bin Al Waleed, a rebel group allied with the Islamic State militant group," the observatory said.    Government troops have now taken control of more than 72.4 percent of Daraa, while rebel territory decreased to 21 per cent. The area controlled by the Islamic State-allied rebel group constitutes 6.6 percent of Daraa.