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China voices support for Syria reconstruction, improving Syrians’ livelihood

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang says his country attaches great importance to developing relations with Syria and is keen to support the Arab country in combating the coronavirus pandemic, improving the livelihood of its people and accelerating reconstruction.

China and Syria “have traditional, friendly relations and have long exchanged understanding and mutual support on issues related to core interests and major concerns of the two countries,” Keqiang said in a letter sent to the Syrian Prime Minister Hussein Arnous.

According to Arnous, the Chinese premier expressed his country’s readiness to “make joint efforts with the Syrian government to consolidate the traditional friendship between the two countries and constantly push forward cooperative relations, wishing Syria and its people security and prosperity.”

Since 2011, Syria has been faced with the emergence of foreign-backed militant groups, out of which Daesh terrorist group popped up and dramatically deteriorated the situation in the Arab country.

Syrian officials say that with the process of eradicating terrorism having reached its final stages, it’s now time to focus on rebuilding. 

The government says it will only award contracts to “friendly countries” that have supported Syria throughout the war. Syria has said Western countries that set political conditions before committing reconstruction funds are not welcome.

Militants evacuated from southern Syria

On Thursday, a group of militants and their families were evacuated on Thursday from their bastion in Dara’a in southern Syria under a Russian-sponsored deal.

The evacuation was aimed at averting a military showdown in the strategic area near Jordan, witnesses, militants and Syrian army sources said.

Dara’a was recaptured by the Syrian government in 2018 but attempts to impose the state’s control over the Dara’a al-Balad district provoked a pushback from armed terrorists.

There have been clashes – including artillery exchanges – between the two sides since late July. These have been the biggest challenge yet to the Russia-brokered deal that returned Dara’a province to government control but allowed militants to stay on in some areas.

A contingent of Russian military police entered the area Tuesday to impose a plan that allows the army to take it over, while providing the militants with safe passage to leave.

Back in 2018, the Syrian Army retook control of Dara’a province, located about 13 kilometers north of the border with Jordan.

Under that deal, thousands of Western-backed militants were forced to hand over heavy weapons. However, the deal kept the army from entering the bastion known as Dara’a al-Balad.

Syrians protest life under Turkish-backed militants

Dozens of protesters took to the streets in northwest Syria to condemn the deteriorating services and tough living conditions in areas that are under the control of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) militant group, which is backed by Turkey.

In Azaz city and its countryside, protesters chanted against the local council and called on it to resign, according to Al-Monitor.

They also demanded improved services and living conditions, calling on the local council to sack the Turkish company AK Energy that operates in the city due to repeated power cuts there.

“Protesters met with the management of AK Energy at its headquarters in Azaz and called on it to leave, halt its operations in the city and return people’s financial subscriptions, which they collected since the company began operating in the area two years ago,” Abdalgader Haj Othman, director of the Azaz media office, told Al-Monitor.

AK Energy was the first Turkish company to invest in the energy sector in the FSA-controlled areas in the countryside of Aleppo. It signed its first contract in Azaz in 2018, and the company’s work extended over the following years toward the cities of al-Bab, Marea, al-Rai and other FSA-controlled areas in the Aleppo countryside.

Videos circulated on Facebook recently showed protesters in Azaz entering the local council building and chanting slogans against the militants. 

Dozens of al-Bab residents in the northeastern countryside of Aleppo also took to the streets to protest against the local council and complain about the poor basic services.

Turkey has been involved militarily in the Syrian conflict since early 2011. It has provided the FSA with military assistance throughout the conflict.

Back in February, Damascus accused Ankara of aiming to support terrorist groups such as Daesh and Jabhat al-Nusra.

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