TAL KROUM, Syria (AP) — The Russian military said Tuesday that its forces in Syria will help U.N. peacekeepers fully restore patrols along the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, reflecting Moscow's deepening role in mediating between the decades-old foes.
The political wing of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) went to Damascus last week for a second round of talks with the government, its co-chair said on Tuesday. A delegation including members of the U.S.-backed SDF, which controls roughly a quarter of Syria, held talks with Damascus this month in their first declared visit to the capital. The visits highlight efforts by the Kurdish-led authorities to open new channels to President Bashar al-Assad's government, as they seek to negotiate a political deal that keeps their autonomy within Syria.
A Communist Party-run newspaper issued a harsh rebuke to criticism of China’s security crackdown on its Muslim-dominated frontier, arguing that authorities had saved the region from becoming another Syria. The Global Times said in an editorial Monday that China’s actions helped “salvage” the far western region of Xinjiang, which was on “the verge of massive turmoil.” “It has avoided the fate of becoming ‘China’s Syria’ or China’s Libya,”’ the paper said in both its Chinese and English editions.
Family and supporters of missing US journalist Austin Tice on Tuesday will mark six years since his disappearance in Syria amid ongoing uncertainty about his whereabouts or condition. Tice's parents are scheduled to appear at a National Press Club exhibit opening featuring Tice's photographs from Syria. "It’s a really important thing for people to see the work that journalists risk their lives for in conflict zones," said Margaux Ewen, North America director for the media rights group Reporters Without Borders, which is working with the Tice family.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman by phone on Monday to discuss the situations in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen, the U.S. State Department said in a statement. It said Pompeo thanked the crown prince "for Saudi Arabia's support for northeast Syria's urgent stabilization needs" and Riyadh's "engagement with the Iraqi government." They also "discussed their support for a ceasefire in Afghanistan over the coming Eid, and peace in Afghanistan more broadly.
BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday slapped down an ally's suggestion that her conservatives could work with the post-communist Left Party in the country's east, an idea that appalls many on the right.
Between 20,000 and 30,000 Islamic State fighters remain in Iraq and Syria despite the jihadist group's defeat and a halt in the flow of foreigners joining its ranks, according to a UN report released Monday. The report by UN sanctions monitors estimates that between 3,000 and 4,000 IS jihadists were based in Libya while some of the key operatives in the extremist group were being relocated to Afghanistan.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Vladimir Putin will discuss the war in Syria, the conflict in east Ukraine and a disputed pipeline to bring Russian gas to Germany during talks near Berlin on Saturday, a German government spokesman said. The two leaders, who last met in May, will each make statements at 1600 GMT before the start of the talks at the Meseberg palace outside the German capital, said Steffen Seibert, adding that Merkel and Putin would take no questions.
Dozens of Syrian refugees left Lebanon by bus on Monday in the latest of a wave of returns to their war-torn country, Lebanese authorities said. An AFP photographer in the southern town of Shebaa saw women and children wait to board buses, while men loaded belongings on the back of a large pick-up truck. Lebanon's General Security agency "secured the voluntary return of 137 displaced Syrians from the areas of Shebaa and central Bekaa through the Masnaa border crossing towards Syria," it said it a statement.
As public pressure mounts on Israeli leaders to crush rocket barrages from the Gaza Strip, they’re opting to try the diplomatic route while a greater threat looms: Iran’s presence in postwar Syria. To keep his military focused on the northern front, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pursuing a long-term truce with Hamas, the militant group that rules the Gaza Strip. Yaakov Amidror, a former Israeli national security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said the negotiations, carried out through intermediaries, serve both Israel and Hamas.