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NATO suspends spy flights over Syria

On 15 February, as the Alliance’s Ministers of Defense met at the Nato headquarters in Brussels, in the presence of General James Mattis, Secretary of Defence in the Trump administration, it was resolved to suspend spying flights over Syria, reported.

Published: February 17, 2017, 12:58 pm

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    NATO has been responsible for the surveillance of the battlefield through its AWACS and its members’ satellites, and some of the intelligence gathered had been transmitted to jihadist groups, in order to evade the Syrian Arab Army.

    On withdrawing its AWACS, the Organisation made it clear that it is not taking a position in the conflict.

    Meanwhile in an interview with French media, Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad defended Donald Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order that temporarily blocked immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries.

    The move has sparked protests in the US and elsewhere, but while the order’s strictest provision targets Syria, imposing an indefinite ban on all refugees from the country, Assad welcomed the ban.

    “It’s against the terrorists that would infiltrate some of the immigrants to the West. And that happened. It happened in Europe, mainly in Germany,” Assad told Europe1 radio and TF1 television. “I think the aim of Trump is to prevent those people from coming,” he added, insisting the order was “not against the Syrian people”

    “I am concerned with how to keep the Syrian people in Syria so that they don’t leave for the United States,” he added.

    Assad has repeatedly criticized Western leaders for supporting the Syrian opposition, which he called terrorists. In the same interview, Assad lashed out at French president François Hollande, who he suggested was a “warmonger”.

    Assad, with backing from Russia, closed in on militant areas and freed Aleppo, the country’s largest city, last year. The president has vowed to fight until he regains control of “every inch” of the country.

    Last week, Assad called Amnesty International’s report on Syria’s government-run prisons “fake news”.

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