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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UN's Guterres Announces Syria Constitutional Committee

The U.N.  chief said the committee would be convened in the coming weeks.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced on Monday (September 23) the formation of a constitutional committee for Syria, a long-awaited step in a stalled peace process.

"It will be facilitated by the United Nations in Geneva," Guterres told reporters, adding that it would be convened in the coming weeks. The United Nations sees the committee as a next step in efforts to find a political solution to end the more than eight-year war in Syria.

"I strongly believe that the launch of the Syrian-owned and Syrian-led constitutional committee can and must be the beginning of the political path out of the tragedy towards a solution in line with Resolution 2254, that meets the legitimate aspirations of all Syrians and is based on a strong commitment to the country's sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity."

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Tripartite summit in Turkey focuses on U.S. intervention in Syria

Ankara, September 17 (RHC)-- The leaders of Turkey, Iran and Russia met on Monday for a tripartite summit in Ankara.  At the conclusion of the meeting, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said that the illegal presence of the United States in Syria poses a major threat to territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Arab country.  He called for the rapid withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Syria.

Rouhani added: “I emphasize that it is necessary for American forces to leave this region as soon as possible, so that, the sovereignty of the Syrian government could be extended to eastern and northern Euphrates regions like other parts of the Syrian territory.”

Rouhani then focused on recent aerial attacks by Israel against Syria and a number of other neighboring countries, saying: “The Zionist regime has increased its aggressive assaults against the Syrian territory in the past months while officials of this regime have claimed responsibility for those assaults and have even extended those acts of aggression to Iraq and Lebanon.”

“Such attacks [by Israel on the regional countries] are blatant examples of provocative and illegal hostile measures, which can lead to extensive tension and conflict in the region,” Iran's president said.

Criticizing international organizations for failing to show a suitable reaction to widespread acts of aggression by Israel against regional countries, Iran's president added, “It is obvious that regional governments and nations have the right to defend themselves against such acts of aggression on the basis of the UN Charter.”

He added that Iran has always stressed the importance of preserving Syria's territorial integrity and national sovereignty, respecting its independence and putting an end to foreign interference in the country's internal affairs.

Iran's president emphasized that all necessary grounds should be prepared for restoration of stability and peace to Syria.  Rouhani noted that an assessment of the three countries' efforts to solve the Syrian crisis through peaceful approaches, anti-terror fight, establishment of a UN-backed constitutional committee, return of refugees, facilitation of humanitarian aid and reconstruction of the war-stricken country was high on the agenda of the summit.

In a meeting with Geir Pedersen, UN special envoy for Syria, in Tehran earlier this month, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the United States is throwing a wrench in efforts to form a UN-backed constitutional committee in Syria, which would seek to pave the way for a political solution to the Arab country’s eight-year conflict.

Iran's foreign minister Zarif says the US is hampering efforts to set up a UN-sponsored constitutional committee tasked with drafting a post-war constitution for Syria.  He once again reiterated the Islamic Republic’s determination to help solve the Syrian crisis through peaceful approaches, saying Tehran supports positive interaction between Damascus and the UN to that effect.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Iranian president once again reiterated the Islamic Republic's stance on the importance of resolving the Syrian crisis peacefully, saying this would only be achieved through constructive interaction and active participation of all walks of life in the Arab country.

"The fight against terrorism, particularly Daesh, al-Qaeda and affiliated groups, should continue until their full eradication," Rouhani said, adding, however, that the anti-terror campaign should not endanger civilians’ lives or undermine security.

A review of Syria's constitution based on people’s demands can play a leading role in ending the ongoing crisis, the Iranian president said, adding that efforts by Tehran, Ankara and Moscow and the United Nations have led to considerable progress in the formation of a UN-backed Constitutional Committee.

Writing a new constitution for a post-war Syria is part of a potential political solution to end the eight-year crisis in the Arab country.   To that end, an agreement was made in the Russian city of Sochi last year for a UN-backed Constitutional Committee to be formed composed of 50 members from the incumbent Damascus government, 50 opposition members, and another 50 independent figures chosen by the world body.

In an earlier meeting with his Turkish counterpart, the Iranian president said cooperation among Iran, Russia, and Turkey, as the three guarantor states of a ceasefire regime in Syria, has promoted security in the war-ravaged Arab country.

Iran's President Rouhani says cooperation among Iran, Russia, and Turkey promotes security in Syria.  "It is necessary to help the Syrian government in its fight against the remaining terrorists, especially in the Idlib region and east of Euphrates, and cooperation [with Damascus] must continue until terrorism is uprooted in the region," Rouhani said.

Edited by Ed Newman
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Rebels withdraw from key Syrian town as pro-Assad troops advance

Insurgent groups have withdrawn from Khan Sheikhun in north-west Syria, clearing the way for pro-government forces to enter the town, in a milestone moment in the war for Idlib province, the country’s last major rebel stronghold.

The development came hours after Turkey deployed tanks and armoured cars deep into Syria, partly in response to days of advances by forces fighting on behalf of the Syrian leader, Bashar al-Assad.

Khan Sheikhun has been a key target in a military campaign launched in late April. The campaign had stalled until recent days, despite relentless Russian-led airstrikes that had decimated communities in southern Idlib and led up to 500,000 people to flee their homes.

Insurgents, spearheaded by the al-Qaida-linked extremist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), have led the defence of the town. According to an HTS statement on Tuesday, the group made “a redeployment” with its fighters withdrawing to areas south of the town. From there, they would continue to defend the territory, it said.

Extremist groups have blended with other anti-Assad fighters throughout Idlib and dominate parts of the province. Their presence has been used as a pretext by Russia and Syria to recapture all of north-western Syria, where up to 3 million people have taken refuge.

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Idlib has become the last redoubt of those who rose up against the Syrian dictator during the Arab revolts of 2011. As Syria’s towns and cities have been pummelled and the regime – heavily backed by Iran and Russia – has clawed back early losses, displaced populations from all corners of the country have ended up in the north-west province.

Winning back Idlib has become a primary goal of the Syrian leader and Russia – also to a lesser extent, Iran, which has committed troops and proxies extensively elsewhere in the war.

Turkey has insisted that it would not let the province fall militarily. To do so would inevitably send tens of thousands of refugees towards its borders at a time when Turkish authorities have been rounding up and deporting Syrian citizens in Istanbul and cities closer to the border.

A convoy of Turkish military vehicles passes through Maaret al-Numan in Idlib reportedly heading toward Khan Sheikhun.A convoy of Turkish military vehicles passes through Maaret al-Numan in Idlib reportedly heading toward Khan Sheikhun. Photograph: Omar Haj Kadour/AFP/Getty Images

Khan Sheikhun has become a focal point of the fight for Idlib because of its position on a main highway linking Idlib city with Hama to the south. The town was home to about one million people, nearly 700,000 of them displaced by fighting in other parts of the country, before the government offensive began in April. In recent days hundreds of civilians remained in the town.

In April 2017, a sarin attack struck the centre of the town, killing 92 and maiming more than 200 people. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and a UN investigation blamed a Syrian regime jet for the strike. Donald Trump ordered the bombing of the base that the jet took off from in retaliation.

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Missiles fired at Russian Khmeimim airbase in Syria amid massive militant offensive – MoD

Al-Nusra terrorists on Wednesday fired 17 missiles at Russian Khmeimim airbase in Syria, all of which were either intercepted or fell short. The attack came as the Syrian Army faced a mass militant offensive in the Idlib province.

Nine missiles were intercepted by the Khmeimim’s air defense, Russia’s Defense Ministry said, while eight others hit the ground before reaching the base. The attack, carried out with the use of multiple rocket launcher systems, originated from a terrorist held area in the Idlib province.

 
Russia’s Khmeimim airbase shelled by DOZENS of rockets, attack repelled – MOD 
The attack came amid a large-scale offensive against the Syrian military launched by the Hayat Tahrir ash-Sham terrorist group (formerly known as the Al-Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda affiliate).

More than 500 militants, seven tanks, four APCs and 30 trucks with mounted machine guns and two explosive-laden vehicles, driven by suicide bombers, took part in the assault, on Wednesday morning. They were backed by another 200 gunmen, and hardware, attacking the government forces from the other side.

The offensive failed as the Syrian military killed 150 terrorists and destroyed three tanks, as well as 24 trucks with mounted machine guns during the heavy fighting.

Khmeimim has frequently been the subject of attempted attacks by terrorist groups, which target the base with rockets and explosive-laden drones. None of the attacks have been successful, but the Russian military warned that the advanced technology possessed by the jihadists can be used against less-protected targets in Syria and abroad.

If the situation in Syria wasn’t tense enough, the US has again accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons in the terrorist-held areas in Idlib, though admitting that it has little proof to back those claims.

Also on rt.com US 'sees signs' Damascus 'may' have used chlorine in Idlib, threatens ‘quick & appropriate’ response...

But the State Department still threatened Damascus on Tuesday that “the US and our allies will respond quickly and appropriately” if their suspicions are confirmed.

The Russian military, meanwhile, warned that Tahrir ash-Sham has set up a special “chemical unit” with the aim of staging a chemical attack in Idlib and to blame the Syrian government of the crime.

This tactic has already been employed by the jihadists on several occasions during the conflict, despite Damascus’s chemical weapons stockpiles being destroyed in 2014 under international supervision.

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Russian forces in Syria shoot down terrorists’ drones after attack on Hmeymim airbase

Russia’s air defense forces shot down two unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) during a terrorist attack on the Hmeymim airbase in Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Monday.

The drones approached the airbase from the northern and the northeastern directions, according to the military.

The Russian airbase’s air defense forces destroyed all of the drones “at a considerable distance from the airbase,” the statement said.

The military said six missiles were fired at the Hmeymim air base in the Latakia province and accused former Nusra Front militants of being behind the assault, RIA Novosti reported.

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Syria in Last 24 Hours: Army Preparing for Major Battle in Idlib

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Damascus Army dispatched fresh military convoys to Northern Hama to further reinvigorate its forces for massive operations against the terrorists in Idlib province amid militants' continued attacks from the demilitarized zone in Northern Syria.

"The Syrian Army has dispatched new convoys to Southern Idlib and Northern Hama to be prepared for imminent military operations in Northern Syria," the Arabic-language website of Sputnik reported.

Meantime, the Syrian army continued its military advances in other parts of Syria over past 24 hours.

Tens of terrorists were killed and dozens more were injured during the Syrian army's operations in provinces across Syria.

Hama-Idlib

The Syrian army sent new military convoys to Northern Hama to further reinvigorate its forces for massive operations against the terrorists in Idlib province amid the militants' continued attacks from the demilitarized zone in Northern Syria.

The Arabic-language website of Sputnik reported on Wednesday that the Syrian army has dispatched fresh convoys to Southern Idlib and Northern Hama to be prepared for imminent military operations in Northern Syria.

It added that extensive military equipment has been sent to the Northern fronts of Hama to Sahl al-Qab region in Northwestern Hama.

Meantime, a military source said that the terrorists launch repeated attacks from the demilitarized zone on safe zones and military positions, adding that cleansing operations in the region should be prioritized.

Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) terrorists targeted the town of Salhab and Mahradeh in Northern Hama by heavy rocket attacks which were responded by the artillery and airstrikes of the Syrian army against their positions and movements in the towns of al-Latamineh, Kafr Zita, Kafr Naboudeh, Rasm al-Ahmar, al-Hawijeh, Qalat al-Maziq, al-Sakhar and al-Sahriyeh in Northern and Northwestern Hama.

The attacks destroyed several hideouts, vehicles and military equipment of the terrorists and killed and wounded a large number of them.

Aleppo

Reports from local media said nearly two dozen Turkish soldiers have been killed and wounded in heavy clashes with the Kurds in Northwestern Aleppo.

The Kurdish-language Hawar news reported on Thursday that the so-called 'Afrin Liberation Forces' targeted two armored vehicles of the Turkish army in the village of Qatmeh in Shara region in Afrin on April 30, killing 7 Turkish soldiers, wounding 5 others and destroying their vehicles.

It added that another group of Turkish soldiers were trapped and engaged in clashes with the Kurds in regions near Qatmeh, noting that 6 Turkish military men were wounded.

Also, 2 Turkish military commanders were killed and 3 others were severely wounded in operations launched by 'Afrin Liberation Forces' against a Turkish army vehicle on the road linking Shara region to the town of A'azaz in Northwestern Aleppo.

Reports from Afrin and A'azaz regions in Northern Aleppo said that heavy clashes had erupted between the Kurdish fighters and the Turkish army and its affiliated militants in the past two days, adding that the Turkish army has pounded the Kurdish positions in Northern Aleppo with artillery fire.

Eastern Euphrates

Over 900 trucks carrying new US military and logistical aid have been sent to the regions occupied by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Eastern Syria after Washington's declaration of the ISIL collapse, media reports said.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on Thursday that the US coalition has only in a recent case sent nearly 65 trucks loaded with weapons and military equipment from Iraq to the SDF-occupied areas in Eastern Euphrates.

It added that a least 945 trucks carrying military equipment have entered Eastern Syria after the US and Washington-backed SDF declared the end of ISIL rule over the region.

Damascus-Quneitra

The Syrian army found a large cache of weapons, including US and Israeli missiles as well as West-made arms, during cleanup operations in areas formerly held by the terrorists in Southern Syria.

The engineering units of the Syrian army discovered underground weapons caches during purging operations in the towns and villages of Southern Syria.

A military source said that they found several US TOW missiles, Israeli LAV missiles, shoulder-launched missiles, US-made M-16 guns, West-made sniper guns, machine-guns and tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition, artilleries, mortars, TNT and advanced goggles.

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Islamic State Group Begin to Surrender Last Territory in Syria

Thousands of people, including armed Islamic State Group members, have surrendered to U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in eastern Syria.

In a report from Al Jazeera, thousands of people, including armed fighters, have left the last area held by ISIL in Syria, a spokesperson for the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said.

RELATED: Islamic State Group Faces Final Defeat by Kurdish-Led Force

Mostafa Bali of the SDF tweeted that about 3,000 people had come out of the village of Baghouz in eastern Syria on Monday through a humanitarian corridor established by the Kurdish-led group for those who choose to leave or surrender.

Bali said among those who left was a large number of fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) group who "surrendered to our forces."

According to a report from Reuters, "around 200 Islamic State members surrendered in Baghouz after a ferocious battle at the weekend, but around 1,000 may still be holding out, a spokesman for the U.S.-backed Syrian force battling them said on Monday."

This came after the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) launched air strikes against the Islamic State Group in central Syria, the pro-Damascus al-Watan newspaper reported on Tuesday.

According to TeleSUR, the Islamic State Group have been using "guerilla-warfare tactics" for four years, while the U.S.-led coalition (SDF) described them as the "most-hardened militants."

AlJazeera reported that suspected fighters were moved to detention facilities for where they will be investigated.

Slowing down the offensive in yesterday, we managed to evacuate about 3.000 ppl from ISIS pocket through the corridor we opened. A large number of Daesh jihadists surrendered to our forces among the same group overnight.

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