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Syria Today – Syria Sends Ambassador to Saudi Arabia; WFP to Cut Aid

Your daily brief of the English-speaking press on Syria.

On Wednesday, it was reported that Iran and Syria plan to establish joint free trade zones, including joint insurance and banking institutions, as both nations accelerate the implementation of bilateral agreements, with discussions on forming a permanent joint energy committee. At the same time, Syria appointed an ambassador to Saudi Arabia after an 11-year hiatus, restoring diplomatic relations severed since the Syrian war outbreak. Meanwhile, the World Food Programme announced the end of food assistance in Syria starting January 2024 due to insufficient funding, affecting millions amid increasing hunger. This comes as Iran attempts to downplay the significance of Israeli attacks in Syria, with claims that Israel lacks the intention or audacity to deliberately target Iranian forces, contradicting the history of routine Israeli attacks on Iran-related targets in the region.

Iran, Syria to set up joint free trade zones: Iran minister

The Iranian Mehr News agency reported that the chief of the Iran-Syria Joint Economic Cooperation Commission, Mehrdad Bazrpash, has revealed plans to operationalize joint insurance and banking institutions, along with the activation of free trade zones. Bazrpash conveyed his contentment with the successful execution of past agreements during a meeting in Tehran. Highlighting an accelerated pace in implementing bilateral accords in recent months, he also mentioned the upcoming introduction of collaborative economic zones between the two nations.

Iran and Syria are accelerating operational measures to implement bilateral accords, he said, proposing the formation of a permanent joint energy committee between the two countries in order to follow up agreements concerning gas and electricity cooperation.

Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime appoints ambassador to Saudi Arabia after 11 year hiatus

Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime on Wednesday appointed an ambassador to Saudi Arabia after an 11-year hiatus, according to the Andolu Agency.

According to Syria’s state-run news agency SANA, the country’s deputy foreign minister, Ayman Soussan, has been appointed as the ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

Soussan was sworn in as ambassador during a ceremony attended by Saudi Foreign and Expatriates Minister Faysal Mikdad, said the news agency.

This would restore diplomatic relations between Syria and Saudi Arabia, which had been severed since the outbreak of the Syrian war in early 2011, the country’s North news agency reported.

WFP to cut food assistance in Syria from January 2024 due to insufficient funding

The United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) has announced that its food assistance across Syria will end in January 2024, the Middle East Monitor has said. The WFP’s decision comes amid a severe decline in funding for the organization that has impaired its operations in the country in recent years.

In an announcement by the WFP this week, it insisted that its donors are unable to provide the level of support to maintain its operations in Syria, particularly due to the record level of humanitarian needs it must cater to on a global scale.

The UN body acknowledged that its decision would affect millions throughout the war-torn country, in which over 12 million Syrians remain in need of the food assistance amid increasing hunger. It assured, however, that it would continue to support families affected by natural disasters via smaller programmes, as well as maintaining some child nutrition and livelihood support schemes for farmers in the country.

IRGC Tries To Minimize Significance Of Israeli Attacks In Syria

The opposition Iranian website Iran International has reported that Iran caught between Israel’s military operation in Gaza that has squeezed its ally Hamas and Israeli air strikes in Syria, appears to be trying to defend its reputation and military credibility. In fact, the pro-Teheran website Fars wrote that foreign media claim “Israel has been serially attacking Iranian positions in Syria. However, these assertions are far from reality. Israel has no intention or audacity to launch a deliberate attack on Iranian forces.”

Fars’ claim contradicts the history of Israeli attacks on Iran-related targets in Syria that have been routinely taking place since early 2017. Hundreds of attacks have been carried out by Israel targeting weapons depots, forward positions, and Syrian airports that Iran uses to transport its weapons into the country. At least twenty such attacks took place in 12 months from April 2022 to April 2023. According to Israeli sources, 100 attacks took place before 2017, and by the end of 2018, the number had already climbed to 200.


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