What Happened Over the Weekend

Assad receives congratulations on return to the presidency, Syria condemns sanctions on Belarus, and over a dozen Syrian soldiers found dead. Find out what happened over the weekend.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has received congratulation cables from the Lebanese President Michel Aoun, the President of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong-un, President of Abkhazia Aslan Bzhania, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on his winning the presidential election, SANA reported. He also received congratulations cables from Iran, Iraq, Russia, China, and Belarus.

Syria has condemned in the strongest terms the systematic targeting of the Republic of Belarus by the United States and its tools of Western countries, calling on the international community to put an end to this behavior, which constitutes a serious threat to international peace and security. The Syria Times quoted a Foreign Ministry statement as saying that Syria “condemns in the strongest terms the systematic targeting of the Republic of Belarus by the United States and its tools of Western countries and the exercise of all forms of pressure, including the unilateral and illegitimate coercive measures to influence the Belarusian national decision and the blatant interference in the internal affairs of Belarus.”

Bodies of 13 Syrian army forces were found Saturday in the Syrian desert, two days after a group of 30 troops went missing in an area controlled by Islamic State (ISIS) militants, the local news site said Sunday, according to Al-Sharqiya 24 Network. The bodies of slain troops were found near the Arak oil field in the Palmyra desert east of Homs city. ISIS fighters have ramped up their attacks in the past months against regime forces and allied militias.

The Foreign Ministry slammed the European Union’s renewal of sanctions against Syria. An official source at the ministry told SANA in a statement on Saturday that once again, the European Union institution proves its complete distance from reality, its full partnership in the unjust war on Syria, and its responsibility for the bloodshed of Syrians and destruction of their achievements. The source added that “these coercive measures represent one aspect of the war on Syria,” adding that “the Syrian people and the heroic Syrian Arab Army managed to defeat terrorism and its supporters.”

The Special Advisor to the presidency Bouthaina Shaaban stressed that holding presidential electoral entitlement as scheduled and the winning of Bashar al-Assad to the post of President is, in itself, a challenge to the will of the Western states that have been conspiring against Syria for ten years. In an interview to Syria TV channel on Saturday evening, Shaaban indicated that those states which supported terrorism in Syria are the same ones that tried to confuse the constitutional entitlement, reiterating that the Syrian people challenged all the western regimes that tried to prevent them from participating and went out to the streets to say their word: “We are the ones who determine and decide. Everything you’ve done does not affect us as we know that you have always wanted sedition in our country between our people and leadership.”

Three rebel factions operating in the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army have merged on Friday, seeking to close ranks and form a unified military body. Zaman Al Wasl reported that the Sultan Mohamed al-Fateh Division, Samarkand Brigade, and al-Waqqas Brigade will be united under the banner of Division 13, which is affiliated with the First Corps, the National Army said in a statement.

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