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Russia seeks US coordination in Syria ceasefire efforts

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Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with US President Donald Trump on Tuesday to push a plan to create security zones and deploy peacekeepers in Syria as part of ceasefire efforts.The “de-escalation zones” would be situated in rebel-held territory in the northwestern province of Idlib, in parts of Homs province in the centre, in the south, and in the opposition enclave of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus. Putin said that the creation of the so-called security zones would be hard to implement without US participation. Delegations will discuss the Russian plan at peace talks in Kazakhstan today.The phone call, the third between both leaders since Trump’s inauguration, is the first time the leaders have spoken since the US struck a Syrian airbase in retaliation for Syria’s chemical attack. The two parts agree to cooperate to end the syrian conflict.

Iran: Jaberi Ansari and Bashar Jaafari meet in Astana

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Iranian Deputy FM Hossein Jaberi Ansari and Syria’s Permanent Representative to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari held talks Tue. during the 4th round of Syria’s international conference in Astana. During the meeting attended by Iranian and Syrian delegations in Astana, the two sides conferred on the latest developments on Astana talks and the political and ground situation in Syria.General and specialized meetings of the fourth International Conference on Syria will be held on Wednesday and Thursday 3-4 May 2017 in the Kazakh capital. Delegations from Astana Process guarantor states (Iran, Russia, and Turkey) together with delegations from observer states will take part in the meetings to find ways to settle the Syrian crisis.

Iraq: ISIS attack on SDF and fleeing civilians kills over 30

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ISIS attack in an area held by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northeast Syria killed at least 32 people, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The attack on Rajm al-Salibi, the location of a checkpoint and refugee camp near the border with Iraq, led to fierce clashes, injuring dozens, the Britain-based war monitor said. The SDF has been battling ISIS since dawn in nearby areas of Hasaka province, which Kurdish forces largely control. An adviser to the SDF, Nasser Haj Mansour, confirmed that several civilians had died, including people fleeing ISIS in Syria’s Deir al-Zor and in Iraq. The SDF, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias, has seized large swathes of northern Syria from Islamic State in a campaign to drive the jihadist group out of Raqqa city, its base of operations in Syria. This week, the SDF said it captured most of the strategic town of Tabqa, 40 km (25 miles) west of Raqqa along the Euphrates. The SDF said fighting continued on Tuesday to capture the last few districts of Tabqa as well as an adjacent dam, Syria’s largest.

ISF arrests 91 Syrians for illegally entering Lebanon

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Within the framework of combating smuggling of persons from Syria to Lebanon, and as a result of close follow-up and monitoring, Internal Security Forces (ISF) Information Branch managed to arrest 91 Syrian people (29 men, 29 women and 33 children) in the Beqai town of Al-Suwairi, for attempting to illegally enter into the Lebanese territories, ISF Directorate General said in a communiqué. In details, some of the detained Syrians tried to illegally enter the Lebanese territories aboard two “Renault Kango” and “Kia Picanto” cars, while others attempted to cross walking.

Iranian, Russian and Syrian defense ministers meet in Moscow

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Second rounds of trilateral meetings between Iranian, Russian and Syrian defense ministers was held in Moscow on the sidelines of the 6th Conference on International Security. During the meeting, Hossein Dehqan, Sergey Shoygu and Fahd Jassem al-Freij underlined convergence among Tehran, Moscow and Damascus against terrorism. They discussed latest field developments in Syria and explored avenues for fighting against terrorism. The three defense minister also underlined continuation of joint full-scale action to eliminate roots of insecurity and violence in the region. They condemned recent US attack against an airfield in Syria, noting that such treachery attacks in support of terrorists should be halted. They stressed joint decisive action against terrorists to prevent terrorist’s reinforcement and to help establishment of peace in the war-torn region. The first round of the trilateral talks was held in Tehran in 2016.

Iraqi Shiite forces retake Hatra antiquities site near Mosul

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Iraqi Shiite paramilitary units captured the northern province of Hatra, cutting off several desert tracks used by Islamic State to move between Iraq and Syria, the military. The operations in Hatra are carried out by Popular Mobilisation, a coalition of mostly Iranian-trained militias of Shi’ite volunteers formed in 2014 after Islamic State, a hardline Sunni group, overran a third of Iraq. The militias on Wednesday dislodged Islamic State from the ancient ruins of Hatra, which suffered great destruction under the militants’ three-year rule, a military spokesman said. Hatra, a city that flourished in the first century AD, lies 125 km (80 miles) south of Mosul, where the militants have been fighting off a U.S.-backed offensive since October. Hatra is also located west of Hawija, a region north of Baghdad still under Islamic State control. Popular Mobilisation, which operates with the approval of Iraq’s Shi’ite-led government, said the Hatra campaign aims at cutting off Islamic State’s routes between Hawija, Mosul and eastern Syria.

Swedish Ambassador visits Hermel, says his country keen on supporting Syrian refugees in Lebanon

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Wedish Ambassador to Lebanon, Peter Semneby, expressed on Thursday his country’s deep concern for Middle Eastern affairs, especially those involving Syrian refugees. “Despite the evacuation of the Swedish Embassy in Syria, we remain in contact with the Syrian state. We are also assisting Syrian refugees on Lebanese territories”, the Swedish diplomat said, confirming his country’s relentless efforts to provide support to Syria and other neighboring countries. He made clear that during the second half of 2017, funding will take place through UNICEF. “This will take place following a thorough study on the needs of Syrian refugees and their hosting societies”, he added.

Russia says US airstrike on Syria damages prospects of peace settlement

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the airstrike that the United States launched at a Syrian military base earlier this month damages the prospects of a political settlement for the war-torn country. Lavrov told a security conference on Wednesday the attack as a pretext for a regime change in Syria and said the US response “pushes the prospect for a wide international front on terror even further away”. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said earlier on Wednesday Russia had to boost security measures at its air base in Syria after the airstrike. Russia has provided an air cover for the government’s offensive on ISIL militants.

Iranian FM: No military solution to crises in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain

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Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif underlined that no military solution is envisaged for the crises in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain, and said the West Asia region is paying a heavy price for the world powers’ hegemonic policies. “The conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain don’t have a military solution”, Zarif wrote in the Kuwaiti al-Rai al-Youm newspaper on Sunday. He said that the regional crises need political solutions based on the views of all the major parties, excluding the extremist and terrorist groups. Noting that the West Asia region has paid a heavy price for the world powers’ hegemonic policies, Zarif expressed the hope that other regional powers would accompany Iran to avoid domination or beind dominated. In relevant remarks earlier this month, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini rejected a military solution to the Syria crisis following a US missile strike against the country. “As for Syria, it was reaffirmed during the Brussels conference organized last week that there is no military solution to the crisis in Syria”, Mogherini said at a news conference in Algiers. “For this issue, the European Union is very clear and very firm, there is no possibility for a military solution to the crisis”, she added. Mogherini said the United States is a friend of the EU, adding the bloc hopes the US can agree with the EU on a political solution to the Syrian crisis.

Intelligence Cell revealed: al-Baghdadi, is still alive and staying in Syria

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Ministry of Defense’s Falcon Intelligence Cell revealed, on Monday, that the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is still alive and staying in Syria, while warned of the “political terrorism” after the liberation of Mosul. Head of the Falcon Intelligence Cell said in a press statement that the criminal al-Baghdadi is still alive and moving freely on the Syrian borders to Iraq. He also warned of the Islamic State danger on the country, calling it the phase of political terrorism after the liberation of Mosul, while pointed out that the terrorist group is planning to extend its strategy to some politicians, who are taking advantage of the invasion of the Northern provinces.

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