Russian mediation reopens major highway in NE Syria

Syrians gather outside a Turkish army base near Idlib to demand the Turks fulfill their side of a truce agreement and allow them to return to their homes. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 26 May 2020

Russian mediation reopens major highway in NE Syria

  • Syria records 20 new cases of coronavirus in largest single-day increase

BEIRUT/DAMASCUS: Traffic returned to a major highway in northeastern Syria for the first time in seven months on Monday, following Russian mediation to reopen parts of the road captured last year by Turkey-backed opposition fighters.

Syrian Kurdish media and a Syrian Kurdish official said several vehicles accompanied by Russian troops began driving in the morning between the northern towns of Ein Issa and Tal Tamr. 

The two towns are controlled by regime forces and Syrian Kurdish fighters while the area between them is mostly held by Turkey-backed opposition fighters.

Turkish troops and allied Syrian fighters captured parts of the highway known as M4 in October, when Ankara invaded northeastern Syria to drive away Syrian Kurdish fighters. The M4 links Syria’s coastal region all the way east to the Iraqi border.

Four convoys will drive on the M4 every day with two leaving from Tal Tamr and two from Ein Issa, according to the Kurdish ANHA news agency. The report said a convoy will leave from each town at 8 a.m., and another set of convoys will do the same, three hours later.

The ANHA agency added that the opening of the highway will shorten the trip between the two towns as people previously had to take roundabout, side roads.

“This is the first time the road has been opened” since October, said Mervan Qamishlo, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

Russia, a main power broker with Turkey in Syria, mediated the deal to reopen the highway, he said. Russia and Turkey back rival groups in Syria’s nine-year conflict.

Coronavirus cases

Syria reported 20 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Monday, the largest single-day increase to date.

The war-torn country has recorded 106 infections and four deaths so far, and new cases have increased in recent days with the return of Syrians from abroad.

Syria has kept an overnight curfew in place but has begun to open some of its economy after a lockdown. Doctors and relief groups worry that medical infrastructure ravaged by years of conflict would make a more serious outbreak deadly and difficult to fend off.


Gaza residents donate blood for Beirut victims

Updated 05 August 2020

Gaza residents donate blood for Beirut victims

  • Dozens took part in a blood drive in the city of Khan Younis on Wednesday
  • “I donated my blood in a moment of loyalty to the Lebanese people,” said Khan Younis resident Abu Diab Ouida

GAZA: Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are participating in a blood donation drive to try and help victims of the explosion in Beirut that has wounded thousands.
Dozens took part in a blood drive in the city of Khan Younis on Wednesday, which was sponsored by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society. Organizers said they will coordinate with the International Committee of the Red Cross to try to get the blood donations delivered to Lebanon.
“I donated my blood in a moment of loyalty to the Lebanese people,” said Khan Younis resident Abu Diab Ouida.
The Gaza Strip has been under a joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade since 2007, after the Islamist militant group Hamas took power from Palestinian rivals in an armed coup. It remains unclear whether the donated blood will be able to reach Lebanon.