Quarter Million Visitors to Attend Damascus Flower Festival (+Photos)

Damascus, (Prensa Latina) About a quarter of a million people have visited Damascus International Flower Festival which finished on Thursday in this capital, according to the organizers.

In statements to the press, Damascus Tourism Director Tarek Krishati stressed that the festival was visited by more than 225 000 people. This Festival is an indicator of Syria's social and tourist life.

Krishati added that several agreements and contracts were signed between national and foreign participants.

After eight years of war, Damascus International Flower Festival was once again held with a significant national and foreign participation.

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Germany rebuffs US call to send ground troops to Syria

Germany has turned down a request from Washington to deploy ground forces in Syria as the US military looks to scale back its presence in the region, describing the proposal as inconsistent with Berlin’s “well known” policy.

US Special Representative for Syria Engagement James Jeffrey confirmed on Sunday that he had asked the German government to provide troops to replace a portion of US forces currently stationed in Syria. He said the request was part of Washington’s preparations for an eventual US military withdrawal in the country.

Berlin didn’t wait long before issuing a curt “nein” to its transatlantic ally.

“When I say the government envisages sticking to the current measures in the anti-Islamic State (military) coalition, this includes no ground troops, as is well known,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert said during a news conference on Monday.

Also on rt.com Washington wants German troops in Syria to help fill gap left by departing Americans...

The response shouldn’t come as a shock to Washington. Germany has generally been wary of a direct military intervention in Syria. In May of last year, Chancellor Angela Merkel assured the public that the Bundeswehr “will not participate in possible military actions.”

While Germany has shunned the idea, Jeffrey seems confident that other US allies will commit to sending troops to Syria. The US diplomat told Defense One that he expects a “breakthrough” agreement in the coming weeks, which would include coalition forces replacing US troops as they withdraw from Syria.

Filling in for US troops in Syria will come with certain moral and legal hazards, however. US military forces have been operating in Syria without the consent of Damascus or UN authorization, what is tantamount to an illegal occupation.

Damascus insists that the Western military presence in Syria is illegitimate, pledging to liberate “every inch” of the country from uninvited foreign troops.

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Steven Seagal film to tell story of Syrian toddler who drowned in Mediterranean

The tragic death of Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian toddler who drowned off the Turkish coast in 2015, is to be made into a movie.

Aylan Baby has begun shooting in the southwest of the country, where the child’s body was found. Subsequent photographs highlighted the plight of migrants who die in the Mediterranean while trying to seek asylum in Europe.

The film is directed by Omer Sarikaya whose autobiographical drama, Islamophobia (2018), encouraged cross-religious tolerance and starred Jean-Claude Van Damme. Aylan Baby – whose subtitle appears to be “Sea of Death” – will feature another 80s action star, Steven Seagal.

Sarikaya told a Turkish news agency that when he first saw the photographs, “I couldn’t sleep for a while. It was always on my mind.”

“I was thinking, ‘Hopefully, someone will shoot a film about it and send a message to the world’ but nobody has done it so far. I am doing it now.”

The film is set for release in Bodrum, where it is being shot, on 2 September, indicating a very fast turnaround for the edit and post-production. Profits from the film will be donated to humanitarian aid, said the director.

Alan, whose name was initially reported to be Aylan, died along with his brother, Galib, and mother, Rehana, after the small boat on which they were travelling in the hope of reaching the Greek island of Kos capsized about five minutes into the voyage.

His body, along with that of another child, was spotted in the shallows and moved to the beach, where they were photographed by a press photographer.

The image was widely circulated on TV, social media and on the front pages of newspapers and was credited with widening international appreciation of the migrant crisis. Heads of state commented on the tragedy and a 15-fold increase in donations to charities such as Migrant Offshore Aid Station was recorded within 24 hours.

The role of Alan’s grief-stricken father, who was also on the boat, became the subject of considerable debate in the months following the accident. Earlier this year, Abdullah Kurdi renamed a German rescue boat in honour of his son.

Photographs released earlier this week of a Mexican toddler, Valeria Ramírez, who drowned in the Rio Grande alongside her father, Oscar, in an attempt to reach the US, have drawn comparisons with those of Alan.

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Syrian Army Continues Fighting Terrorists in Three Provinces

Damascus, Jun 22 ( Prensa Latina ) The Syrian Army has continued Saturday the fighting against terrorist groups in the provinces of Aleppo, Hama and Idleb in joint actions of artillery, own and Russian aviation and infantry units, according to military sources.

The most recent reports confirmed the destruction of an operations center of the Levant Liberation Board, formerly Al Nusra Front, near the town of Muhandissen, west of Aleppo province, 450 kilometers north of Damascus.

According to sources, three artillery vans, one armoured vehicle and an unspecified number of casualties for extremists were destroyed in response to continued attacks against Syrian-controlled populations.

On the other hand, government troops were deployed on the front of Kafer Noaboudeh, in the north of Hama province and bordering that of Latakia, where the former Al Nusra and the so-called Turkestan Party, composed of mercenaries of the Uyghur Chinese ethnicity, alternatively held positions in the Kabani region. In this area, which forms part of a demilitarized zone never respected by terrorists, fighting continued for control of the road between the towns of Saqalabiyeh and Mhardeh, these latter under the domination of government troops.

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We won’t sell out our allies or principles to strike Syria deal with US, says Putin

Russia will not reach any agreement with the United States on the future of Syria at the cost of Syria itself or Moscow’s interests and principles, President Vladimir Putin has said.

During his annual Q&A session on Thursday, a journalist asked Putin if there would be a “grand deal” with the US on Syria as the country begins to recover from years of hostilities and destruction.

“What do you mean ‘a grand deal’? Sounds like some commercial act. No. We don’t sell out our allies, our interests or our principles,” Putin said.

He said that Russia is willing to negotiate a political transition in Syria with various stakeholders. “Can it be done? I believe it can, provided there is goodwill of everyone involved in the conflict.”

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Putin highlighted Turkey and Iran as Russia’s immediate partners in resolving the Syrian crisis, but said countries like the US, Israel, Egypt, and Jordan have legitimate interests in what happens in Syria as do the European nations, which were hurt by mass migration triggered by it. “We have to work together on it,” he stressed.

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Terrorists, White Helmets Planning to Launch Chemical Attacks on Six Hama Regions

TEHRAN (FNA)- Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) and Jeish al-Izza as well as pro-militant White Helmets are preparing for a false-flag chemical scenario on six different locations in Northern Hama to accuse the Syrian Army later, media sources said.

The Arabic-language website of Russian Sputnik news agency quoted informed sources in Idlib province as saying that Tahrir al-Sham terrorists have transferred three chlorine capsules to Northern Hama from one of their headquarters in Jbal al-Zawiyeh in Southern Idlib.

The sources said that the chlorine gas capsules have been handed over to one of Jeish al-Izza commanders near the contact lines with the Syrian Army in Kafar Zita town.

They also said that Jeish al-Izza terrorists will probably conduct chemical attacks on residential areas in Eastern Kafar Zita, Latamin, al-Sayyad, Lahaya and the surrounding areas of the cities of Mourek and Khan Sheikhoun near the Syrian Army's contract line to be able to control the crime scene and make filming easier for them.

According to different media, security and diplomatic reports, Jeish al-Izza terrorists have several underground and secret warehouses containing different kinds of chlorine-mounted missiles in Northern and Northwestern Hama, including interconnected tunnels between Kafar Zita, al-Latamaneh and Southern Latmin farms.

Meantime, the terrorist groups intend to launch chemical attack in Idlib province in a false flag operation against the Syrian army to set the stage for military intervention by the West and the US on Syria.

In a relevant development on Saturday, the Army backed by Syrian and Russian air forces warded off several attacks launched by Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay'at in several regions to regain the regions they have already lost in Northern Hama, killing over 140 terrorists.

The Arabic-language website of the Russian Sputnik news agency quoted a military source as saying that the Syrian Army in a coordinated military operation from the towns of al-Jobin, al-Hamamiat and Karnaz in Northern and Northwestern Hama launched counterattacks after fending off terrorists' offensives, and killed tens of militants after fully cleansing the towns of Kafar Houd and Tal al-Melh.

It pointed to the Syrian Army's continued military operations to clean up the remnants of terrorists, and said after purging the terrorists from the farms located between Tal Melh and al-Jobin town in Northern Hama, the Syrian Army liberated all the positions that it had temporarily withdrawn from.

The Syrian Army also held captive several terrorists in an ambush operation in Karnaz and Tal Melh in Northern Hama.

The Syrian and Russian fighter jets also heavily pounded the terrorists' lines of movement in different axes, including al-Zuka, al-Arbaeen, al-Latamneh and Kafar Zita, the surroundings of Mourek, Khan Sheikhoun and the town of al-Sayyad in Northern Hama and Southern Idlib. The Syrian and Russian air forces managed to cut the terrorists' movements from Idlib to Northern and Northwestern Hama.

In a relevant development last Wednesday, it was announced that the Syrian Army had seized full control of 23 villages and towns from the terrorists since the beginning of its military operations in Hama province.

The Syrian Army's massive military operations started in Hama and Idlib provinces after the terrorists violated the Sochi Agreement on April 26 and the government forces have spread their rule to Southern Idlib.

A sum of 18 towns and villages have been liberated in Northern and Western parts of Hama province and the Syrian Army has also imposed full control over five other regions in Southern Idlib, the pro-militant Anab Baladi news website reported.

In Northern and Western Idlib, the Syrian Army has earned control of Janabareh, Tal Osman, Jaberieh, Tal Hawash, Toyieh, Sheikh Idris, Kafar Naboudeh, Qala al-Maziq, al-Tavineh, al-Sharia, Bab Taqa, al-Hamreh, al-Hawiz, al-Mohajerin, al-Karkat, al-Mostariheh, al-Khaledi and al-Hardan.

In Southern Idlib, the Syrian Army started its military operations on Monday and it has already regained control of al-Qasabiyeh, al-Hardaneh, al-Hamirat, al-Qaroutiyeh and Qaraseh.

Meantime, the Syrian State television reported that the Syrian Army has kicked off new military operations in Tarmala, al-Nafir and the surrounding areas of Khan Sheikhoun in Southern Idlib.

The Arabic-language SANA news agency also reported that the Syrian Army's artillery units has been heavily pounding the al-Nusra Front and Jeish al-Izzeh terrorists' military positions in al-Zaqoum, Qalididan and al-Zuka regions in Northwestern Hama Province in the last few days.

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Nest of terrorists in Idlib, Syria should be uprooted – Lavrov

The Russian airbase Khmeimim in Syria has been under fire from the terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra in Idlib recently, and the “nest of terrorists must be uprooted,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday.

He made the statement at a news conference with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, in Moscow.

Under the new name Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the terrorist group “not only controls the situation there, but also shells positions of the Syrian Army and settlements,” Lavrov said.

The head of the Russian Defence Ministry’s Center for Syrian Reconciliation, Maj. Gen. Viktor Kupchishin, said on Tuesday that militants violated a ceasefire in the Syrian provinces of Aleppo, Idlib and Latakia over a period of 24 hours.

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Events in Venezuela are similar to what happened in Syria – Assad tells visiting FM

The war in Syria has much in common with the political crisis gripping Venezuela, where outside players try to meddle in domestic affairs and undermine sovereignty, Syrian President Bashar Assad told Venezuela’s Foreign Minister.

What is happening in Venezuela is similar to the developments in Syria,” Bashar Assad told Jorge Arreaza during his visit to Damascus, as quoted by Russian media. Those interfering in both crises seek “hegemony” over Syria’s and Venezuela’s sovereignty, Assad claimed.

Slamming the US-led “flagrant interference” in Venezuela’s domestic affairs, the Syrian president said sanctions and embargoes became playbook examples of pressuring “anyone who does not adhere to their policy.”

Arreaza visited Damascus while touring other countries in the region, including Turkey and Lebanon.

Earlier this year, opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president, garnering unconditional support and recognition from a series of states, including the US and other Western powers. Washington has even mulled the so-called “humanitarian intervention” in order to remove the unwanted government of Nicolas Maduro from power.

Also on rt.com Maduro places troops on high alert, accuses US of rehearsing new form of warfare in Venezuela...

The Syrian conflict started on the heels of anti-government demonstrations inspired by the 2011 Arab Spring unrest. Protests erupted in several major cities, with opposition protesters demanding that Assad step down. Some of the anti-government groups took up arms and the violence rapidly escalated, sending the country into civil war. Most Western countries unambiguously supported anti-Assad factions, declaring that the president has “lost” his legitimacy. Militant groups took over control of vast parts of Syria during the civil war chaos and the rise of Islamic State and other terrorists.

A large portion of these so-called “moderate rebels,” backed and funded by the West while fighting the Syrian Army, turned out to be radical Islamist militants. Even the US had to admit its training program of the Syrian opposition fighters had failed as it proved difficult to find enough “moderates,” and some of those who did receive training infamously gave up hardware and arms to terrorist groups, including an Al-Qaeda affiliate.

Also on rt.com ‘Venezuela won’t become 2nd Syria’: Lavrov sure S. America won’t back military invasion v. Maduro...

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