Putin discusses Idlib with Russia’s security council
Syria, Jordan in talks to reopen key border crossing, resume bilateral trade
Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the situation in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib with members of Russia’s Security Council on Friday, the RIA news agency cited the Kremlin as saying.
Putin told the Security Council he was concerned by militant activity in the last major rebel-held stronghold in Syria, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was cited as saying.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday that Moscow would keep bombing militant targets in Syria’s Idlib Province if need be, but would also open humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to flee, the Interfax news agency reported.
Lavrov, who was speaking in Berlin, was cited as saying that the Russian air force would strike what he called terrorist weapons-making facilities as and when it found out about them, but would also encourage local reconciliation deals.
Syria, Jordan in talks to reopen key border crossing
Syrian and Jordanian officials have started talks to reopen the key border crossing of al-Nassib after a three-year hiatus in a bid to re-establish bilateral trade and help revive the economy of war-torn Syria.
The first round of talks was held on Wednesday, with both countries agreeing to continue negotiations over the practical arrangements, from customs to security, in order to reopen the crossing in southern Syria, an informed source said on Thursday.
“The meetings will continue to put a complete view of all the arrangements linked to reopening the crossings in the coming period,” the source told Reuters.
Al-Nassib border crossing was closed in 2015 following attacks on the Jordanian security forces by foreign-backed terrorists, but the Syrian army managed to retake the vital route last July.
Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said last month that his country wants to open its borders with Syria, but was waiting for a response from Damascus.
Another Jordanian official said the al-Nassib crossing could open by the end of this year.
The Syrian government also hopes that the reopening of the key crossing could help the war-torn country revive its economy and rebuild itself.
Efforts to restore peace and stability to Syria come as government forces have managed to purge terrorists and anti-government militants from most of the country, and are preparing for a full-scale offensive to retake the northwestern Idlib province, the last stronghold of foreign-backed terrorists.
Israel ends its ‘humanitarian’ aid for Syrians
As the Syrian army regains full control of the country’s southwestern borders with the occupied territories, the Israeli regime has declared the end of what it called “humanitarian” aid it used to offer to Syria’s “civilians”.
What the Israeli army has described as its “humanitarian” assistance to “civilians” in its Thursday statement is indeed the arms and medical support it offered to the Takfiri terrorists in the occupied Golan Heights and elsewhere in Israel. While Israel claims it always sought to stay out of the war in Syria, evidence shows the regime has been overtly and covertly supporting terrorist fighting against the Syrian government. Israel has been providing the Takfiri terrorists in the Golan Heights with a steady flow of funds and medical supplies as part of Tel Aviv’s involvement in the bloody conflict.
Marines hold eight days of drills with militants in southern Syria
Elsewhere, the United States marines have held eight days of unprecedented military exercises with the U.S.-backed militants in southern Syria in an attempt to send a “strong message” to Iran and Russia, a senior military official said.
Colonel Sean Ryan, a U.S. military spokesman, described the drills as “a show of force,” saying that the Pentagon had notified Russia through “de-confliction” channels to prevent “miscommunication or escalate tension”.
“The exercise was conducted to reinforce our capabilities and ensure we are ready to respond to any threat to our forces within our area of operations,’” he noted.
The eight days of drills ended this week at the U.S. military outpost in Tanf, located 24 km to the west from the al-Tanf border crossing between Syria and Iraq in Homs Governorate, said Colonel Muhanad al Talaa, the commander of the U.S.-backed Maghawir al Thawra militant group.
He told Reuters the war games were the first such exercises with live-fire air and ground assault, involving hundreds of the U.S. troops and militants operating against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
Thawra claimed the drills were meant to send what he described as “a strong message to Russia and Iran” that the Americans and the militants intended to stay and confront any threats to their presence.
The U.S. presence in Tanf military base is illegal and lacks the permission of the Syrian government. Damascus, Moscow, and Tehran have repeatedly denounced the American military presence in Syria and called on the U.S. to withdraw its marines from the base. However, the U.S. has so far refused to pull its forces out, and even moved to deploy hundreds of more marines in Tanf earlier this month.
The new forces have reportedly joined “special operations troops already based in the garrison” and are going to participate in the drills amid an escalation of U.S.-Russian tensions in Syria and Russia’s military exercises in the Mediterranean.
Meanwhile, the CNN cited several U.S. military officials as saying last Friday that Russia had warned the Pentagon twice in the past weeks that its forces, together with Syrian troops, were prepared to wage an attack on terrorists in the area where dozens of the U.S. troops are stationed - including those in Tanf garrison.
Reacting to Moscow’s warnings, the U.S. military officials “bluntly warned Russia and Syria not to go forward with an attack within a 35-mile-wide security zone that the U.S. maintains around Tanf,” Task & Purpose further reported.
The U.S. illegally built the military outpost in early 2016 under the pretext of fighting Daesh terrorists, but it has declared a 55 km-radius “de-confliction zone” off-limits to others, providing a safe haven for at least 50,000 militants and their families in the Rukban camp that lies within it.
This is while the U.S. President Donald Trump had previously stated that he wanted American troops out of Syria as soon as possible and has also called for redirecting millions of dollars meant to help rebuild Syria to other military projects.
Russian and Iranian military forces are in Syria at the official request of the Syrian government. This is while the U.S. has involved itself in the Syrian conflict through an overt campaign meant to train and support anti-Damascus terrorists. The government of President Bashar al-Assad has repeatedly denounced the American military presence in the country and called on Washington to end what it has described as an “uninvited aggression” against Syria.