MOSCOW, August 2, 2018 (News Wires) - Russia will deploy military police on the Golan Heights frontier between Syria and Israel and set up eight observation posts, Interfax news agency reported on Thursday, citing the Russian Defence Ministry.
"With the aim of preventing possible provocations against UN posts along the 'Bravo' line, the deployment is planned of eight observation posts of Russia's armed forces' military police," Sergei Rudskoi, a senior Defence Ministry official was quoted as saying by Interfax.
Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and their Russian and Iranian allies have largely defeated anti-government rebels in south-west Syria, bringing pro-government forces closer to the frontier with Israel.
The prospect that Iranian forces, and members of the Shi'ite Hizbollah militia, are in proximity with the border in the area of the Golan Heights has prompted warnings from Israel, which sees Iran as a threat to its national security.
Iranian forces have withdrawn their heavy weapons in Syria to a distance of 85 km from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, TASS quoted a Russian envoy as saying on Wednesday, but Israel deemed the pullback inadequate.
Rudskoi was also quoted as saying that a UN peacekeeping force on the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria that was stopped in 2012 could be resumed.
UN peacekeepers accompanied by Russian military police patrolled the area for the first time in six years on Thursday, Rudskoi said.
Geneva, July 31, 2018 (News Wires) - The UN peace envoy for Syria said on Tuesday that he plans to host Iran, Russia and Turkey for talks in September on finalising a committee to write a new Syrian constitution.
Staffan de Mistura, whose past efforts to push forward a Syrian peace deal have achieved no breakthroughs, was tasked with setting up the committee during a Russian-backed congress held in Sochi in January.
"The Special Envoy looks forward to holding formal consultations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey, very early in September in Geneva, in order to begin to finalise the constitutional committee," de Mistura's office said in a statement.
Russia and Iran have supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad through the conflict, while Turkey has backed opposition groups.
The UN envoy told the Security Council last week that he wants to have the constitutional committee in place before world leaders meet at the General Assembly in late September.
The Syrian government has expressed reservations about the proposal but in May, it sent a list of names of officials to take part in the new diplomatic effort. The opposition recently also sent its list of delegates.
More than 350,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since Syria's war started in 2011 with the repression of anti-government protests.
BEIRUT, July 28, 2018 (News Wiers) - A Syrian Kurdish group said on Saturday it had decided with the government to “chart a roadmap to a democratic and decentralized Syria”, but there was no immediate confirmation from Damascus.
Relations between the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad and the Kurdish-led administration in the northeast, the two sides that hold the most territory in Syria, have been pivotal in the course of the seven-year-old civil war.
However, while they have mostly avoided direct conflict, they have articulated sharply opposing visions for the future, with the Kurds seeking autonomy in a decentralized state, and Damascus wanting to restore full central control.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) said it and the government had decided to “form committees on various levels” to develop negotiations, end the violence engulfing Syria and chart a roadmap to democracy and decentralization.
It said it met Syrian government officials in Damascus this week at Assad’s invitation after initial meetings in Tabqa on the Euphrates river that focused on restoring local services.
The SDC is the political wing of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which gained control of the quarter of Syria east of the Euphrates, an area that includes farmland and oil and water resources, during the fight against Islamic State (IS) terrorist group.
The talks pointed to moves by the Kurdish-led authorities to seek a deal with President Assad to preserve their autonomy as he regained most rebel areas with Russian and Iranian help while they have grown wary of their unpredictable US ally.
Assad has sworn to regain “every inch” of Syria but said in May for the first time that he was “opening doors” for talks with the SDF, while also threatening force. He has described the Kurdish administration’s democratic bodies in the northeast as “temporary structures”.
“It’s hard to see how they will reach more substantive agreement in the coming months because you just have a huge gap between the two sides on what the future of this region should look like,” said Noah Bonsey, the International Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst on Syria.
Any Syrian Kurdish negotiations with Damascus would also generate new questions for U.S. policy in Syria, where the U.S. military has deployed into SDF-held territory during the campaign against Islamic State insurgents.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Syrian refugees returned to their country from Lebanon on Saturday in a bus convoy arranged by both governments, advancing an effort by Beirut to accelerate returns to areas where fighting has ended.
Syrian state television reported that about 1,200 refugees were expected to cross back into the country from Lebanon on Saturday before returning to their homes.
Lebanon’s security chief Abbas Ibrahim said “the coming period will witness the return of hundreds of thousands of refugees from Lebanon” in comments reported by Hezbollah’s al-Manar television channel.
State television in Syria and the private al-Jadeed channel in Lebanon showed buses full of refugees at the crossing point on the frontier. It is the latest in a series of recent returns arranged by the two countries.
MOSCOW, July 28, 2018 (MENA) - As many as 265 Syrian refugees returned home on Friday, Russian Ministry of Defense announced on Saturday.
They include 75 women and 131 children, the Russian refugees center said.
Talks on the Syrian crisis are scheduled for July 30-31 in the Black Sea city of Sochi.
DAMASCUS, July 27, 2018 (MENA) - A Syrian army unit discovered a hideout for the so-called ‘White Helmets’ organization, with mines and ammunition inside, during combing operations in the newly-liberated towns and villages in Daraa northwestern countryside, SANA reported Friday.
The state-run news agency said it is another proof of the organization's involvement in carrying out terrorist acts in Syria.
SANA said army units continue to sweep the villages of Hait, Jileen and Sahem al-Golan which have been liberated Thursday to secure them for the return of the displaced locals.
The hideout of the ‘White Helmets’ was found in Sahem al-Golan town with anti-armor mines and artillery shells’ fillings of various kinds inside it.
GENEVA, July 27, 2018 (MENA) - The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that following five weeks of sustained hostilities in Southern Syria, as many as 182,618 people remain displaced from their areas of origin.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke said that the Government of Syria has made rapid territorial gains over the past weeks, and currently only a stretch of land near the Golan area remains under Non-State Armed Group-control (NSAG), while a 200 km2 area is under the control of the Daesh-affiliated Jaysh Khaled Bin Walid Waleed group (JKBW).
The United Nations are very concerned regarding JKBW’s policy of restricting the freedom of movement of civilians who are trying to leave the area, and only limited numbers of civilians were able to escape, he said.
While the current number of civilians trapped in the JKBW-controlled area could not be confirmed, the UN estimated that prior to the escalation of hostilities up to 55,000 people were located in said area, noting that several thousands have reportedly since managed to flee, he added.
Those who stay behind remain subject to heightened hostilities. For example, between 21 and 23 July, intense airstrikes were reported on JKBW-held areas in the Yarmouk Basin, including on al-Shajra, Hayt, Tasil, Jellin, Sahm al-Golan, Adwan and Tal al-Jumou’, and various reports suggest that at least 32 civilians were killed, including eleven children and three women, the spokesman said.
The UN is further particularly concerned about the humanitarian situation of the 100,000 individuals in the Golan area, who continue to face hostilities and lack access to assistance and services, he added.