Syria: Food, drought concerns highlighted by UN

Syria’s upcoming presidential elections will not be delayed despite war or politics, the country’s information minister stated. Omran Zoabi said the following:

“It is not for any authority to postpone or cancel this election, which will be run on schedule,” the newspaper quoted him as saying. “We will not allow security, military, or domestic or foreign political reasons to delay or cancel the presidential election.”

“The danger of the Syrian regime’s fall has ended,” Hassan Nasrallah of the Lebanese Hezbollah group said. The organization has been working alongside with government forces throughout most of the civil war in Syria.

The United Nations World Food Programme warns of a looming and far-reaching drought in Syria.

“WFP is concerned about the impact of a looming drought hitting the northwest of the country — mainly Aleppo, Idlib, and Hama — with rainfall less than half of the long-term average and potentially major impacts on the next cereal harvest,” a WFP spokesperson said. “This could put the lives of millions at risk if the drought continues.”

The United Nations has to cut their food aid funds due to lack of donor money, the organization reports Monday. Rations will be cut by a fifth as the UN’s call for funding was 22 percent short of its request of $4.2 million. Syria Deeply reports that it costs the World Food Programme $41 million a week to operate and that they need to raise $306 million from April to June.

On the ground

Syria’s army has started an offensive on Rankus in the Qalamoun mountain region by the Lebanon border. They have captured Yabroud, among other villages, from rebels in the area a few weeks ago.

Rankus is the last rebel-held village in the Qalamoun region. Rebel spots were hit by shells and air raids Tuesday. A military source told AFP they were surrounding the town.

However, rebels claim they have gained ground in the city of Aleppo. Opposition groups are working with the al-Qaida backed al-Nusra group as they are holding their places and branching out in Aleppo as the government launches barrel bomb airstrikes on the city.

Rebels also say they are moving into Qunaitra near the border of Israel. In Quunaitra, they are setting up rebel posts for reportedly 30 rebel groups working together.

Syria’s President al-Assad is confident in his control over the Latakia province by the Mediterranean Sea coastline just as a rebel offensive has been battering the area recently. [Read an interview by Syria Deeply on the topic]

Through talks

Syria’s opposition leader Ahmad Jarba is to go to China for a meeting over political solutions next week.

Accusations are flying internationally, via foreign policy, over both regime and rebel chemical weapon attacks.

The United States reportedly supplies Syria opposition rebels with anti-tank weapons. Images and video footage suggests that this claim may be possibly true. On the other hand, the U.S. Secretary of State Kerry and the Pentagon are at odds over America’s approach to the rebels.

 

Headlines

Polio spreads from Syria to Iraq, furthering worries of health issues across the Middle East.

Fears grow over “vacationing terrorists” who enter, exit Syria freely.

Germany bans Hezbollah-linked fundraising group active in Syria’s war.

United States and Turkey reject Seymour Hersh article on sarin gas in Syria.

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