Syria battles forest fires for seventh day straight

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A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on September 8, 2020 shows a Syrian man attempting to put off a fire on a hill in Ain Halaqim, in the western countryside of Syria's Hama governorate. (AFP)
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A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on September 8, 2020 shows fires on a hill in Hazzur, in the western countryside of Hama Governorate. (AFP)
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A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on September 8, 2020 shows security forces walking on a burnt hill Ain Halaqim, in the western countryside of Hama Governorate, during fires. (AFP)
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A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on September 8, 2020 shows fires on a hill in Ain Halaqim, in the western countryside of Syria's Hama governorate. (AFP)
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Updated 10 September 2020

Syria battles forest fires for seventh day straight

DAMASCUS: Syrian firefighters and army helicopters Wednesday battled forest fires for a seventh consecutive day in government-held areas of the war-torn country, state media said.
Damascus ally Iran sent in a firefighting plane Wednesday carrying 40 tons of water to help fight the fires in the hilly woodlands of Latakia and Hama provinces, in northwestern and central Syria respectively, state news agency SANA said.
State media has published repeated images of billowing smoke above tree tops and charred vegetation.
“Numerous fires have been put out, others brought under control, but the fires continue to rage in some areas” of Latakia, forestry official Hassan Fares told AFP.
The agriculture ministry said steep terrain was an obstacle to fire trucks being able to reach the fire hit areas quickly.
There was no immediate data for how large an area had been affected overall.
But Hama governor Mohammed Al-Hazouri said the blaze had ravaged eight square kilometers (three square miles) of agricultural land in his province alone.
Summer fires, sometimes sparked by accident and generally not linked to the war, are common in Syria, but residents have said this year’s are worse than usual.
Syria’s war has killed more than 380,000 people, displaced millions from their homes, and decimated the country’s economy.


No Middle East peace without solving ‘Palestinian problem,’ says Russia

Updated 18 September 2020

No Middle East peace without solving ‘Palestinian problem,’ says Russia

  • Kremlin observes ‘progress’ in the normalization of ties in the region

MOSCOW: Russia said it would be a “mistake” to think of peace in the Middle East without resolving the Palestinian issue.

The Foreign Ministry statement came on Thursday after Israel normalized relations with long-time foes Bahrain and the UAE at the White House on Tuesday.

Russia said it noted “progress” in the normalization of ties between Israel and several Arab countries but said that “the Palestinian problem remains acute.” 

“It would be a mistake to think that without finding a solution to it that it will be possible to secure lasting stabilization in the Middle East.” 

Moscow urged regional and global players to “ramp up coordinated efforts” to solve the issue. 

“Russia is ready for such joint work,” including in the framework of the diplomatic Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators and in close coordination with the Arab League, the Foreign Ministry said. 

US President Donald Trump has said similar US-brokered deals are close between the Jewish state and several other nations. 

Bahrain and the UAE are the first Arab nations to establish relations with Israel since Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. 

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday that only an Israeli withdrawal from its occupied territories could bring peace to the Middle East.