Record numbers of Syrians are food insecure, 12 die in Aleppo bomb blast, and Iran announced a new direct shipping line to Latakia. Catch up on everything that happened over the weekend.
- Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar Al-Jaafari was sworn in on Sunday before President Bashar Al-Assad as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates. SANA reported that the president provided Dr. Al-Jaafari with directives and wished him success in his task.
- The UN food agency has described the number of struggling to find enough food to eat – a record 12.4 million – as “alarming”, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported. The figure means that “60 percent of the Syrian population are now food insecure”, the World Food Program said, based on results of a nationwide assessment in late 2020. It marks a sharp increase from 9.3 million people who were food insecure in May last year.
- At least one civilian was killed and 12 others injured in a bomb blast in northern Syria on Saturday, local sources said. According to Anadolu Agency, terrorists blew up an explosives-laden vehicle in a crowded market in Cobanbey town in Aleppo province, the sources said. Shops in the area were heavily damaged and firefighters battled to douse blazes sparked by the blast. Security officials at the blast site said the attack may have been carried out by the YPG group, according to the sources.
- Iran will establish a direct shipping line between its southern port of Bandar Abbas and Syria’s Latakia port, announced Head of Iran-Syria Joint Chamber of Commerce Keyvan Kashefi. According to Asharq Al-Awsat, Kashefi acknowledged that there are issues in trade with Syria regarding the shipping, transportation, and lack of common land borders. However, he noted that transportation through Iraq is currently impossible due to “several issues.” The official told Fars news agency that the necessary coordination has been made between the Iran-Syria Joint Chamber of Commerce, the Committee for the Development of Iranian-Iraqi-Syrian Economic Relations, and the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL).
- On Saturday, the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it had received an official invitation from Russia to participate in the next round of Astana negotiations (tripartite negotiations between Russia, Turkey and Iran) on settling the Syrian crisis in Sochi. According to North Press, the Russian ambassador delivered an official invitation to Iraq to participate as an observer in the 15th round of Astana negotiations. The tour is scheduled to be held in the Russian city of Sochi on February 16-17 to discuss security, political, and humanitarian developments in Syria.