What Happened Over the Weekend

Supportive words from the UAE, coronavirus fears rise, regime attack thwarted in Idleb province, sophisticated anti-air weapons for the opposition and a Syrian man dies in Italy. Catch up on everything that happened over the weekend.

1. Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed expressed support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a Friday tweet, as it deals with the coronavirus outbreak, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported. Five cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Syria since Sunday, with rights groups deeply concerned about populations already pummelled by regime forces. The Crown Prince added he discussed COVID-19 updates with Assad and, “assured him of the support of the UAE and its willingness to help the Syrian people.”

2. The head of the of the Syrian National Coalition expressed concern on Thursday that the Syrian regime may leave prisoners to die if they contracted coronavirus, calling for the inspection of regime-run prisons for possible COVID-19 cases. According to the coalition website, Anas al-Abde urged the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to lead an examination for signs of the virus in regime-run jails, in a statement released on the SMDK’s website. “This plague can spread to prisons. The regime may use this situation for its own interest and get rid of the prisoners (by letting them die),” Abde said.

3. Reports surfaced of the Turkish military transporting a US-made air defense system to the Idleb Governorate in northwestern Syria. According to Al-Masdar, the Turkish military sent a US-made MIMi-23 Hawk medium-range air defense system to the Idleb Governorate on Friday. Following these initial reports, video footage of the Turkish military transporting this air defense system through the Idleb Governorate was released on social media by opposition activists.

4. Turkish-backed forces on Saturday thwarted a Syrian regime attack in the southern region of Idleb province, a rebel source told Zaman al-Wasl.  Fierce clashes were reported early on Saturday as the army’s elite units seek to seize the villages of Sfouhn and al-Fatira in the Jabal al-Zawiya area. Turkey, which backs rebels opposed to Bashar al-Assad, agreed a ceasefire with Russia three weeks ago. Moscow supports Syrian regime forces.

5. Syrian and Russian coordination committees on the Return of Syrian Refugees affirmed that the US exploits the humanitarian situation in the al-Rukban Camp and transports equipment to terrorists under the pretext of medical and humanitarian aid deliveries to the besieged people in the camp, SANA reported. “The US side seeks to make use of the spread of the coronavirus and tries to exert pressure on the UN to pass shipments and equipment to the terrorists under the pretext of medical and humanitarian aid to the besieged persons in the camp,” the two committees said in a joint statement. The statement added that the humanitarian situation in the camp is an outcome of the illegal occupation of this part of Syria by the US.

6. A spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Peter Stano, has stressed that humanitarian and medical aid is allowed even under sanctions. According to Aki News Agency Stano said, “In principle, when sanctions are economic and have to do with banning exports, food and medical aid are exempt and this is applicable to the current situation of the coronavirus outbreak,” adding, “Companies and concerned parties should be aware of this issue.”

7. A 32-year-old Syrian psychiatrist died from COVID-19 on Friday in Italy, relatives said. According to Zaman Al Wasl, Dr. Iyad al-Deqer tested positive for coronavirus two weeks ago, before his death on Friday in the Italian city of Piacenza, south of Milan.

 

This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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