Russia ‘trying to help Syrian refugees to return home’

Russian soldiers distribute aid in the central Syrian province of Homs. (File/AFP)
Updated 17 August 2018
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Russia ‘trying to help Syrian refugees to return home’

  • A buffer zone separates Syria to the east, from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights to the west
  • The Russian military police have set up four observation points along the demarcation line on the Syrian side of the buffer zone

MOSCOW: The Russian Defense Ministry said it was coordinating efforts to help Syrian refugees return home and rebuild the country’s infrastructure destroyed by the civil war.
Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev said in a conference call that included Russian and Syrian officials that work is underway to rebuild dozens of Syria’s power stations, schools and other vital institutions.
In Damascus, Syrian Public Administration Minister Hussein Makhlouf pledged the regime would protect refugee property rights and grant returning refugees a year’s deferral from military conscription.
“The Syrian government is working to simplify procedures for refugees who return, repair housing and try to create new jobs,” Makhlouf said, adding that the authorities were also working to streamline legislation to facilitate refugee returns.
He dismissed as hostile “propaganda” claims that some refugees were facing arrests on their return.
Makhlouf called on Western nations to drop their sanctions against Damascus, introduced early in the seven-year conflict, in order to help post-war restoration and encourage the return of the refugees.
Mizintsev said that over 1.2 million of internally displaced Syrians and about 300,000 refugees have returned in the past two and a half years.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin might take part in a summit with the leaders of Turkey and Iran at the beginning of September.
The three leaders met in April at a summit in Ankara where they discussed developments in Syria.
With help from its Russian ally, President Bashar Assad’s regime has expelled fighters from large parts of Syria’s south since June.
Israel has repeatedly pledged to prevent Iran from establishing a military presence along its border. A series of airstrikes that killed Iranians inside Syria have been attributed to Israel.
A buffer zone separates Syria to the east, from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights to the west.
The Russian army’s Lt.-Gen. Sergei Kuralenko told reporters on an organized press tour this week how “stability” had returned to the buffer zone.
Apart from “a few problems with Daesh” in its southern tip, the demilitarized zone was “entirely under control of Syrian military police,” Kuralenko said.
“Everything is ready” for the return of UN troops, he said, after the peacekeepers were forced to withdraw in 2014.
After retaking most of the two southern provinces adjacent to the buffer zone, regime forces last month raised their flag inside, above the key border crossing of Quneitra.
The Russian military police have set up four observation points along the demarcation line on the Syrian side of the buffer zone, Kuralenko said, and plan to set up four more in the near future.
They are “willing to hand them over to the UN if it says it is ready to ensure the monitoring of the Golan alone,” he said.


Oman marks its 48th National Day

Updated 1 min 13 sec ago
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Oman marks its 48th National Day

  • 48 years ago, in his first historic speech in 1970, Sultan Qaboos promised to establish a modern state
  • Oman and Saudi Arabia enjoy historic, brotherly relations on various issues

JEDDAH: The Sultanate of Oman has celebrated its 48th National Day, marking a period of peace and development under the leadership of Sultan Qaboos.

In celebration, Sultan Qaboos will preside over the “Glorious National Day” military parade on Sunday, which will be staged at the parade ground of the Royal Guard of Oman (RGO) Command.

On the occasion, Oman’s neighbors, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, have congratulated the country’s leadership and its people on the event of their national day.

Oman and Saudi Arabia enjoy historic, brotherly relations on various issues, in which both countries are keen on strengthening and developing the interests of their peoples and their leaders.

48 years ago, in his first historic speech in 1970, Sultan Qaboos promised to establish a modern state. Years have proven that with under his wisdom, inspired by the values of the past and future aspirations, Qaboos has built a nation that upholds the values of justice, citizenship, equality and law.

Throughout the years, Oman has made numerous and continuous achievements in various fields while maintaining its originality and heritage, all while remaining at pace with contemporary developments.

The most important feature of the modern “Omani Renaissance” is that Sultan Qaboos has laid the foundations and pillars of national unity as a firm pillar of this nation.

This is accompanied by programs to stimulate tourism and investment in tourism projects in the various provinces of the Sultanate.

Oman also tops rankings by international institutions in indicators on various fields, such as terror-free countries, reliability of police services, the judicial independence index, the road quality and the port services efficiency index.