What Happened Over the Weekend

Syria receives coronavirus vaccines from Israel, 21 ISIS jihadists killed in the past 24 hours, and Israeli woman released by Syria in Russian-mediated prisoner swap. Catch up on everything that happened over the weekend.

Israel secured coronavirus vaccines for the Syrian regime as part of a Russian-mediated prisoner swap agreed this week, according to an Israeli source and local media reports, Reuters reported. The source, who requested anonymity, did not state the number of vaccines, or whether they were from Israel’s own supply. Barak Ravid, an Israeli reporter, wrote on Twitter that the country had paid Russia 1.2 million dollars for its Sputnik V vaccine as part of the deal, citing “foreign sources.” SANA quoted a Syrian official source denying these reports. The source added that circulating such fabricated information about a secret term in the exchange process aims to defame Syria and distort the patriotic and humanitarian side of the process.

About 40 of Syria’s largest food companies are participating in the World Gulfood Dubai exhibition which starts tomorrow and lasts until next Thursday. Chairman of the Central Committee for exhibitions at the Federation of Syrian Chambers of Industry, Talal Qalaa Ji, said in a statement to SANA, that 20 Syrian industrial companies are participating in the Syrian pavilion, while 20 other Syrian companies are participating in the international pavilion of the exhibition.

A wave of airstrikes by government-ally Russia killed at least 21 Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists in the Syrian desert over the past 24 hours. The 21 jihadists were killed in at least 130 airstrikes “carried out over the past 24 hours by the Russian air force targeting the ‘Islamic State’ group in an area on the edge of the provinces of Aleppo, Hama, and Raqqa,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The raids, which continued into Saturday, follow a series of ISIS attacks Friday on government and allied forces that killed at least eight members of a pro-Damascus militia, the Britain-based monitor said.

The US State Department announced on Thursday that Aimee Cutrona has assumed her role as Acting Special Representative for Syria Engagement, Asharq Al-Awsat reported. Cutrona “recently assumed the role of Acting Special Representative for Syria Engagement,” the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs announced on Twitter. Cutrona, who also serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Levant Affairs in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, “has extensive experience supporting US diplomacy in the region,” it said.

Syria released an Israeli woman after Israel returned two shepherds to the Syrian-controlled side of the Golan Heights amid a Russian-mediated prisoner swap, Al-Jazeera reported. The woman, who has not been publicly identified, had crossed the border into Syria several days ago, prompting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to approach Russian President Vladimir Putin in efforts to secure her release, Netanyahu’s office said. The young woman was on her way home, the Israeli prime minister’s office said on Thursday, following media reports that Russia mediated the prisoner swap. Little is known about why the woman entered Syria.

After concluding the 15th round of the Astana talks on Syria in Sochi, UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen is holding military and political talks in Moscow ahead of making a much-anticipated visit to Damascus, Asharq Al-Awsat reported. Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, discussed regional issues including Nagorno-Karabakh, Syria, and Libya in a phone call with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Also, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed the outcomes of the two-day meetings in Sochi with his Syrian counterpart, Faisal Mikdad.

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