The Syrian Army stops two terrorist offensives in Idlib

Damascus, Jan 21 (Prensa Latina) Terrorist groups have continued to violate the ceasefire and recently attacked the positions of the Syrian Arab Army in the northern province of Idlib, 330 km north of this capital.

According to local media, radicals of the pro-Turkish National Front for Liberation and of the Organization for the Liberation of the Levant, former Al-Nousra Front, armed wing of Al-Qaeda in Syria, launched two simultaneous offensives against military positions in the towns of Jarjnaz, Abu Dafneh, al-Teh, Tal Khatra and Tal Yeref in southeast Idlib.

The intensity of gunfire and the use of suicide-driven bomb vehicles forced the Syrian military to withdraw from some positions that were later recovered in a counterattack without any change in the control map.

At least 18 casualties were reported among the military and at least two dozen extremists were killed in the offensive.

The attack by the extremists is a violation of the ceasefire announced by the Syrian army on January 13 to allow the exit of civilians and prevent them from being used as human shields.

Meanwhile, bad weather conditions resulted in calm in the fronts west and south of the city of Aleppo, where at any time the Syrian Army could launch a terrorist offensive, according to analysts.

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United States attempts to create new hot spots in Syria

Damascus, Jan 17 (Prensa Latina) Syria and Russia on Friday denounced US attempts to create new hot spots in Syria.

Washington is working hard to keep and feed the tension in order to justify the presence of its forces in Syria and to continue plundering its natural resources for as long as possible, said a statement issued by the Syria-Russia coordination bodies.

The note said that 'the withdrawal of American troops would undoubtedly contribute to reducing tensions in Syria and the entire region.

Damascus and Moscow also warned of the serious consequences of the actions of the United States occupation forces in terms of aggravating the already deteriorated situation in Syria.

Both organizations asked the United States 'to desist from exerting a destabilizing effect on the situation in the Middle East and to strictly comply with the principle of respect for the sovereignty of states and the principles of the United Nations'.

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Russian president visits Syria and meets with President al-Assad

Damascus, Dec 7 (Prensa Latina) Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in this capital on an unannounced visit today, last-minute reports by official Syrian media revealed.

President Bashar al-Assad met with Putin at the headquarters of the Russian forces stationed in Damascus, SANA agency reported.

The visit takes place in the midst of extreme security measures while several helicopters continue to fly over the city of Damascus.

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U.S. builds military base in oil fields of Syria

Damascus, December 25 (RHC)-- The United States is building a large military base within the al-Omar oil field, in the province of Deir Ezzor, in Syria, local media reported.

“The U.S. is equipping the base to serve as the command headquarters for the international coalition's operations,” the Syria Now portal reported.  Besides fortifying the field with logistic and military reinforcements, the U.S. Army is building airstrips for its helicopters, which will be used to monitor oil wells from the air.

According to Syrian analysts, Washington is working to find a mechanism that makes it easier to extract as much Syrian oil as quickly as possible.  To do so, the U.S. is moving electrical equipment to put the electricity network into operation at the oil fields, which would allow it to begin to exploit them.

The meme reads: "The U.S. and its allies continue to misinform the international community about the situation in Syria. This hinders the process of returning Syrian citizens to their homeland."  Previously, the U.S. government withdrew its soldiers from 11 military bases in Syria and concentrated them in the oil fields located in Remelan.

The al-Omar base will replace the base that existed at the Lafarge Cement Factory, from which U.S. troops withdrew in November.

On December 20th, the Acting Charge de-Affairs of Syria’s permanent mission to the United Nations, Louay Fallouh, asked Washington to end the theft of oil and gas resources belonging to the Syrian state and to withdraw its forces from the Arab country.

The Syrian ambassador also rejected the draft resolution for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHOA) on his country's current situation, as it does not address the alleged humanitarian objectives mentioned in its content. 

Edited by Ed Newman

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‘Can you imagine our troops coming to France without invitation?’ Bashar Assad blasts French ‘occupation’ of Syria

There’s no major difference between supporting terrorism on Syrian soil and sending troops there without formal approval from its government, Bashar Assad said as he lambasted France’s role in Syria’s civil war.

Syria has “come a long way” toward defeating much of the terrorist insurgency on its soil, but pockets of resistance still remain as jihadists are receiving support from Turkey and Western countries, Bashar Assad told Paris Match magazine, singling out the US, the UK and “especially France.”

France has joined the US-led anti-Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) coalition, providing air support and deploying special forces to Syria. But for Assad, the French intervention amounted to an “occupation,” as Paris – like its major NATO ally Washington – failed to secure Damascus’ authorization of the mission.

Do you frankly think that we can send Syrian forces to fight terrorism in France without being invited by the French government? International law governs the behavior of states in the world, not [their] intentions.

Now, when foreign forces came to Syria without being invited by the legitimate government, “it is [called] occupation,” the Syrian president insisted, adding, “there is not a big difference between supporting terrorism and deploying the military to occupy a country.”

Dubbed Operation Chammal, the French deployment was, officially, to carry out reconnaissance flights and aid Kurdish and Arab fighters in Syria. At peak times, France’s assets in the Middle East included a Charles de Gaulle carrier strike group, a fighter jet squadron as well as several marine units on the ground.

The interview came on the back of the Syrian army’s advances in the northern province of Idlib. The troops are now trying to fight their way toward the last militant-held towns along the strategic Damascus-Aleppo highway.

Also on Britain and France will send forces to Syria ...but Americans will pay for it, report suggests...

As the fighting continues, Assad said Syria can handle the war without any backing from the West. “We can manage our own business ... But we want to come back to a world order that is no longer respected, because chaos reigns,” he concluded.

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Erdogan Says US is Not Fulfilling Agreement to Withdraw Kurds

“While we hold these talks, those who promised us that the YPG...would withdraw from here within 120 hours have not achieved this,” he told a news conference, referring to a deadline set in last month’s agreement.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan stated on Thursday that the U.S. Coalition was not fulfilling its part of the agreement to withdraw the Kurdish forces from the Turkish-Syrian border region. 

RELATED: Turkey's Erdogan Announces Capture of Al-Baghdadi's Wife

During a news conference on Thursday, Erdogan criticized the U.S. forces in northern Syria, vowing to bring up the topic to U.S. President Donald Trump when they meet next week.

Erdogan is set to discuss implementation of the agreement with Trump in Washington on Nov. 13, after confirming that the visit would go ahead following a phone call between the leaders overnight.

“While we hold these talks, those who promised us that the YPG...would withdraw from here within 120 hours have not achieved this,” he told a news conference, referring to a deadline set in last month’s agreement.

Turkish officials had previously said Erdogan might call off the U.S. visit in protest at U.S. House of Representatives’ votes to recognize mass killings of Armenians a century ago as genocide and to seek sanctions on Turkey.

A month ago, Turkey launched a cross-border offensive with Syrian rebels against Kurdish YPG fighters. After seizing control of a 120-km (75-mile) swathe of territory, it reached a deal with the United States to keep them out of that area.

After the deal with Washington, Ankara also reached an agreement with Moscow under which the YPG was to withdraw to a depth of 30 km along the entirety of the northeastern Syrian border with Turkey.

But Erdogan said this deal had also not been fulfilled, with YPG fighters still in the border strip, adding that he would hold talks with Putin soon on the issue.

A senior U.S. State Department official said late on Wednesday there has been fighting in the area southeast of Syria’s border town of Ras al-Ain. It “is somewhat in dispute” whether the area is covered by the U.S. or Russian deals.

“The YPG and all armed forces have certainly withdrawn from the vast majority of our area,” the official said. “Erdogan is never all that specific in his broadside attacks on us or anybody else.”

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Turkey "Heading In Wrong Direction" Over Syria: US

Brussels, Belgium: Turkey is "heading in the wrong direction" with its incursion into Syria and its deal with Russia to jointly patrol a "safe zone" there, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper warned Thursday.

"Turkey put us all in a very terrible situation" by sweeping into northern Syria this month to fight Kurdish militia allied with the US in the fight against the Islamic State group, Mark Esper told a conference in Brussels ahead of a NATO defence ministers' meeting.

"I think the incursion's unwarranted," Mark Esper said.

The onus was on Turkey's NATO allies to now "work together to strengthen our partnership with them, and get them on the trend back to being the strong reliable ally of the past," he said.

The issue of Turkey's military offensive in Syria is set to dominate the two-day NATO meeting, with diplomats in the organisation saying "frank" discussions with Ankara's representatives have already taken place.

A subsequent arrangement with Russia to clear Kurdish militia that Turkey regards as "terrorists" linked to the outlawed PKK group on its soil has also raised hackles.

Yet, while isolated in NATO, Turkey's strategic position between Europe and the Middle East is seen as too important to jeopardise, so the other alliance members have limited themselves to criticism only.

Mark Esper defended the US decision to pull US forces out of northern Syria, effectively opening the path to the Turkish operation.

"The US decision to withdraw less than 50 soldiers from the zone of attack was made after it was made very clear to us that President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan made the decision to come across the border," he said.

He added that "I was not about to put less than 50 US soldiers in between a 15,000-man-plus Turkish army preceded by Turkish militia and jeopoardise the lives of those servicemen". Nor was he "about to start a fight with a NATO ally," he said.

Mark Esper acknowledged "there has been some criticism" about the US withdrawal "but nobody's yet offered a better alternative to what the United States did. We are trying to keep a very strategic perspective."

In his speech and question-and-answer session at the event hosted by the German Marshall Fund think tank, Mark Esper highlighted threats he said were posed by Iran, Russia and, especially and above all, China.

"NATO allies should be looking east," to China, he said, stating that Beijing's "heavy hand" was being seen politically, militarily and economically not only in Asia but further abroad, including into Europe with its "belt-and-road" project.

Adoption by NATO allies of China's Huawei company to build 5G telecoms networks would be a threat to intel-sharing within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, he said.

"I'll counsel our allies -- if Huawei becomes your provider of choice, this will affect our ability to share intelligence. We can't trust those networks," he said, adding: "We need to address those threats with eyes wide open."

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Cuba, Syria ink cultural agreement

Havana, Sep 24 (Prensa Latina) Syria and Cuba signed an agreement to strengthen cultural exchange, which will serve to expand the links that both countries are currently developing beyond the political field, stated Cuban Minister of Culture Alpidio Alonso.

The agreement was signed last night in Havana by Syrian Ambassador Idris Maya and Alonso, who described it as a framework understanding that will allow collaboration in diverse areas such as the exchange of artists, performers and specialists, taking advantage of festivals and international events.

Both sides undertake to promote invitations to writers and other literary experts, to encourage the exchange of information on the development of the visual arts, the production of works of art and the holding of exhibitions in each country.

They will also cooperate in the conservation, restoration and preservation of cultural property, as well as in the protection of heritage, and work to organize film geeks and production and establish cooperative relations between their respective national libraries.

Maya and Alfonso discussed the prospect of the Syrian Minister of Culture visiting the island and having his Cuban counterpart travel to Damascus at appropriate times, Atkins vintage of festivals and events.

In a conversation with the ambassador prior to the signing, the Cuban minister condemned the 'terrorist and mercenary war' that Syria has suffered in recent years and stressed that the damage resulting from these conflicts is not limited to the political, economic and social spheres, but also impacts the culture of the peoples.

He recalled how the national Museum of Iraq in Baghdad was emptied during the American invasion of 2003, an institution that preserved valuable collections and relics of the emergence and development of civilization.

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