Terrorists Kidnapped Thousands of Syrians

DAMASCUS – Syrian Minister of State for National Reconciliation Affairs has said that thousands of Syrians have been kidnapped by armed terrorist groups and the number continues to increase.

"We do not have the exact numbers. Thousands [have been kidnapped by the militants], and the number keeps growing. All estimates are approximate," Haidar told Sputnik news agency

He noted that the exchange of prisoners for kidnapped residents was one of the options, referring to last week's Syrian media reports that Damascus was considering an agreement with armed groups on the exchange of kidnapped civilians for jailed militants.

"But in this case, we should be talking about the intentions of the kidnappers and militants, not the government, which is always willing [to solve this issue]," Haidar added, according to the agency.

De Mistura: Today's Session of Geneva Talks a Step in Track of Political Solution in Syria

NEW YORK, (ST)- The UN Chief's Special Envoy for Syria Steffan De Mistura has stressed that there is no military solution to the crisis in Syria and that the Syrian people need an end to the crisis to get a better future that meets their aspirations.

He made the remarks during the opening session of the fourth round of the Intra- Syrian talks in Geneva which kicked off Thursday evening with the participation of the delegation of the Syrian Arab Republic plus delegations representing "Riyadh opposition" and other opposition groups.

The meeting today is an opportunity to put a basic brick on the track of political solution to the crisis in Syria, said de Mistura, reiterating that there should be no pre-conditions for the talks.

He stressed that "there is no military solution to the crisis, the only solution is political and we will work together to lay the foundation necessary to help attain peace in Syria and maintain its unity and sovereignty."

Syria's Bashar Al-Jaafari Re-elected as Rapporteur of UN C-24

NEW YORK, (ST)- Dr. Bashar Al-Jaafari, Syria's Permanent Representative at the United Nations, was reelected as the Rapporteur of the UN Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (also known as the Special Committee on decolonization or C-24).

700 People in Serghaya Town in Damascus to Have their Legal Status Settled

DAMASCUS COUNTRYSIDE – Governor of Damascus Countryside Alaa Ibrahim inspected on Wednesday the services situation in Serghaya town and the implemented measures to settle the status of armed persons after the departure of terrorists from the town within the framework of continued local reconciliations in the western part of the province, SANA reported.

In a press statement during the visit, the Governor said the process of settling the legal status of about 700 persons from the town of Serghaya has been embarked on, noting that a large number of those persons will join the military service, while the others will return to their normal lives.

1500 Displaced Persons Return to Hama’s Helfaya, 45 Persons Fleeing ISIS in Raqqa Arrive in the Province

HAMA – 300 families who left their homes fleeing the terrorist organizations have returned back to Helfaya city in the northwestern countryside of Hama province.

Governor of Hama Mohammad al-Hazzouri told SANA that the families included 1500 persons, noting that their return to Helfaya has come in the framework of implementing the reconciliation agreement reached recently to restore security and stability to the city, which is located 25 km northwest of Hama city, according to SANA.

Transport Minister Asserts Economic Blockade Negatively Impacted All Aspects of Life in Syria

Minister of Transportation Ali Hammod has asserted that the unjust economic blockade imposed on the Syrian Arab Airlines Company and ships has paralyzed communication between citizens in Syria and abroad and has negatively affected health system and infrastructures of services.

He called for lifting the blockade through operating Syrian airplanes to Europe and European airplanes to Syria.

His remarks were made during a speech he gave Wednesday in the Global Transport Conference being held in Geneva between February 21 and 25.

The minister briefed the participants in the conference on Syria's role in global transport and the importance of the country's geographical and historical position.

Syrian-Iranian-Russian Cooperation Helped Achieve Strategic Gains in Fight against Terrorism: PA Speaker

TEHRAN, (ST)- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has reiterated that attaining peace and stability in Syria serves the interest of Palestine and the region.

Meeting Speaker of Syrian People's Assembly (PA) Hadiya Abbas on Wednesday on the sideline of the Sixth International Conference on the Palestinian Intifada being held in Tehran, Rouhani reaffirmed Iran's firm support for Syria in all domains.

He hailed the victories of the Syrian Arab army and people in their struggle against terrorists, noting that Iran will continue to back the Syrian people in the face of terrorism and will strongly support intra-Syrian talks to find political solution to the crisis in the country.