First visit by a FIFA committee to Syria since 2011

Damascus,  (Prensa Latina) A committee of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) visited Syria, considered the first trip of its kind since the start of the war in that country in 2011.

According to local media reports, the delegation visited the capital, monitored the elections of the Syrian Football Union and also toured a number of sports facilities to assess the situation of sport in the country.

According to a FIFA report quoted by Syrian television station al-Khabar, the impact of the war has diminished and football is improving with a strong system of men's football.

There are 14 teams in the first league and they play their matches in the cities of Damascus, Latakia, Aleppo, Hama and Homs, and the number of fans exceed 30,000 in each match, the report noted.

For its part, the Syrian Football Union demanded that the embargo imposed on the country's stadiums from 2011 be lifted and that the national team be allowed to play its international matches at home.

  • Published in Sports

Trump considering dramatic expansion of travel ban

The White House is considering dramatically expanding its much-litigated travel ban to additional countries amid a renewed election-year focus on immigration by United States President Donald Trump, according to six people familiar with the deliberations.

A document outlining the plans -- timed to coincide with the third anniversary of Trump's January 2017 executive order -- has been circulating in the White House.  But the countries that would be affected are blacked out, according to two of the people, sources who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the measure has yet to be finalised.

It is unclear exactly how many countries would be included in the expansion, but two of the sources said that seven countries - the majority of which are majority Muslim - would be added to the list.  The most recent addition to the ban includes restrictions on five majority-Muslim nations: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, as well as Venezuela and North Korea.

A different source said the expansion could focus on several countries that were included when Trump announced the first iteration of the ban but that were later removed amid rounds of contentious litigation.  Iraq, Sudan and Chad, for instance, had originally been affected by the order, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in a 5-4 vote after the administration released a watered-down version intended to withstand legal scrutiny.  Trump later criticised the U.S. Department of Justice for the changes.

The White House did not immediately respond to questions about the effort, which several of the sources said was timed for release in conjunction with the third anniversary of Trump's first travel ban.  That order sparked an uproar when it was announced on January 27, 2017, with massive protests across the nation and chaos at airports where passengers were detained.

The latest deliberations come as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi prepares to transmit to the Senate the articles of impeachment that the Democratic-led House passed in the US Congress against Trump late last year, launching a formal impeachment trial just as the 2020 election year gets underway.  Trump in December became just the third president in history to be impeached by the House.  The Republican-controlled Senate is not expected to remove him from office.

Trump ran his 2016 campaign promising to crack down on immigration and spent much of his first term fighting lawsuits trying to halt his push to build a wall along the southern border with Mexico, prohibit the entry of citizens from several majority-Muslim countries and crack down on migrants seeking asylum in the U.S., amid other measures.  He is expected to press those efforts again this year as he ramps up his re-election campaign.

Just this past week, a coalition of leading civil rights organizations urged House leaders to take up the No Ban Act, legislation to end Trump's travel ban and prevent a new one.  The bill, introduced last year by Representative Judy Chu in the House and Senator Chris Coons in the Senate, would impose limits on the president's ability to restrict entry to the US.  It would require the administration to spell out its reasons for the restrictions and specifically prohibit religious discrimination.

Trump's revised ban eliminated some of the original's most contentious provisions, including making clear that those who held visas at the time of the signing could continue to enter the country.

  • Published in World

Cuban Trade Minister affirms his country’s continued support to Syria in all domains

Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment Rodrigo Malmierca affirmed that his country will continue to support Syria in all fields.

Meeting Syrian Ambassador to Cuba Dr. Idris Mayya at the building of the Trade Ministry in the capital city of Havana on Tuesday, Malmierca underlined the importance of benefiting from the available potentials to enhance relations between the two countries in the economic domain.

Talks during the meeting dealt with the current status of the bilateral relations between Syria and Cuba and means to develop and invigorate them, particularly on the economic level so as to serve the interests of the two friendly countries.

Ambassador Mayya, for his part, indicated that Syria’s participation in the 37th edition of Havana International Fair was a significant opportunity for showcasing some Syrian products which the Cuban market is in need for them.

He affirmed Syria’s readiness to do everything possible to upgrade the economic relations between the two countries to be up to the level of their distinguished political relations.

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Syria’s Kurds strike deal with Assad after being abandoned by US

Kurdish-led forces in Syria have struck a deal with Bashar al-Assad’s government to hand over areas along the border to the Syrian army in a last ditch effort to halt a Turkish attack.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, one of the west’s key allies in the fight against Isis, said the army would deploy along the border with Turkey “to repel this aggression and liberate the areas entered by the Turkish army and its hired mercenaries”.

The deal was struck in response to a wide-scale military operation launched by Turkey against the SDF last week, which has killed more than 60 civilians and sparked fears of ethnic cleansing.

Turkey’s armed forces and allied Syrian rebels have made rapid gains in the past week, taking control of two cities along the border and threatening to advance further. General Mazloum Kobani Abdi, commander of the SDF, described the operation as an “existential threat” to Syria’s Kurds.

The agreement could spell the end of a years-long experiment in autonomy led by Syria’s Kurds, and marks a major shift in alliances for the embattled community.

Turkey has long threatened to attack the SDF, which it considers a terror organisation for its links to a Kurdish separatist group that has fought the Turkish state for decades. Ankara said its military operation was launched to implement a “safe zone” along its border with Syria, free of SDF fighters.

But the SDF – a mostly Kurdish militia with a smaller Arab contingent – has been a key ally of the US in the fight against Isis. The presence of US troops in Syria alongside the group had acted as a deterrence for a Turkish assault. That changed quickly last week when Donald Trump made a shock announcement that the US would not stand in the way of Turkey’s plans to enter Syria. The SDF described the abrupt shift as a “stab in the back”.

The deal will see the Syrian army deployed along a large stretch of the Turkey-Syria border, the SDF said, in an effort to deter any further Turkish incursion.

The agreement brings its own dangers, however. For decades, Kurds in Syria have faced repression and discrimination at the hands of the government. Although the civil war had caused great upheaval for the community, it has also allowed them to win new freedoms, which may now be lost again.

yria’s Kurds took over control of majority Kurdish areas from the government shortly after the outbreak of Syria’s civil war in 2011, but largely refrained from directly fighting it.

In the time since, it extended that area of control beyond Kurdish areas as it recaptured territory held by Isis.

Over the past few years it has built an alternative form of governance in the areas under its control, with the eventual aim of creating an autonomous administration that would outlast the war.

  • Published in World

Syria hosts conference on educational development

Damascus, Sep 27 (Prensa Latina) Sessions of the Educational Development Conference opened on Friday at the Conference Center in Damascus, organized under the theme: 'A Future Educational Vision to Enhance the Rebuilding of Humans and the Homeland.'

A total of 1,700 delegates representing ministries, education institutions, centers and organizations, in addition to 630 foreign experts accredited by the United Nations, from countries such as Germany, Iran, Russia, India, Egypt and Pakistan, are participating in the event.

During his opening remarks, Syrian Minister of Education Imad Muwaffaq al-Azab ratified Damascus' commitment to an organized educational transformation based on plans studied with community participation.


The speeches in the sessions of the event specially focused on linking education with labor market and production.

The Conference aims to form an advanced national strategic vision for education in Syria through 2030, in accordance with 21st century requirements and in light of the transformations of the current society.

  • Published in Culture

Turkish military enters Syria to begin joint US ‘safe zone’ patrol

Armed Turkish military vehicles crossed into Syria on Sunday and headed southwest with US counterparts to begin planned joint patrols to establish a “safe zone” along a border region mainly controlled by Kurdish forces.

According to the report by Reuters, vehicles with Turkish flags joined those in Syria with US flags some 15 kilometers (nine miles) east of the Turkish border town of Akcakale, near Syria’s Tel Abyad. Two military helicopters were seen overhead.

The region east of the Euphrates river is mainly controlled by Kurdish YPG forces, US allies that Ankara has labelled terrorists because it says they have links to Kurdish militants in Turkey.

After intensive negotiations, Turkey and the United States have also set up a joint operation centre but have so far disagreed over the zone’s depth and over the command structure of the forces to operate there.

The NATO allies have conducted multiple joint helicopter patrols over the area. Turkey, which hosts some 3.6 million Syrian refugees after eight years of war south of its border, hopes to resettle 1 million refugees in northern Syria.

“Our geography is an advantage, but we are at a disadvantage in terms of migration and terror,” Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said in a CNN Turk interview Sunday.

“If US forces can patrol in the east of Euphrates with our forces and can enter with their own troops, and if there are the (Turkish) observation points in Idlib (in northwest Syria), this is all due to the steps taken by Turkey.”

With US backing over the last four years, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance that the YPG spearheads has taken control of much of northeastern Syria from Islamic State militants.

Many of the inhabitants of the predominately Arab area that is expected to comprise the safe zone – including Tel Abyad, Ras al Ain and several Arab villages – had fled to Turkey fearing reprisals by the YPG on charges they had links to Islamic State.

  • Published in World

Cuban Ambassador Highlights Relations with Syria

Cuba's ambassador, Miguel Porto Parga, highlighted this Saturday in an interview with the national agency SANA, his country''s ties with Syria on the 54th anniversary of relations between the two nations.

In the information, the Cuban diplomat underscored the coincidences of both nations in the defense of sovereignty, independence and support for just causes in the world against the coercive measures of the United States.

Syria and Cuba are celebrating the 54th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations this month at a time when they continue to face challenges and a common enemy represented by the United States, which imposes an economic embargo on the peoples of both countries, Porto said.

Our country, the ambassador stressed, will participate in the activities of the 61st edition of the Damascus International Fair despite the economic embargo imposed on Cuba, and explained that the Cuban pavilion will include Cuban products related to life-saving technology and medicines.

He also reviewed Syrian Cuban relations since the time of contacts between the leaders of the two countries, Fidel Castro and Hafez Al Assad, among other issues of mutual interest.

  • Published in Cuba
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