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Red Cross in contact with two sides of Syrian truce

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on March 31, 2015, shows Syrian soldiers on an armored vehicle in the mountains surrounding the city of Zabadani, some 50 kilometers northwest of Damascus, after they retook the area from Takfiri terrorists. (AFP)

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says the organization is in contact with the two sides involved in a newly agreed-upon six-month ceasefire in Syria as the “parties” are in the process of implementing it.

The ICRC has not participated in the negotiations but would act as a “neutral humanitarian intermediary,” said Pawel Krzysiek, media relations manager at the organization and its Damascus-based spokesperson, on Saturday, adding that its “involvement would concern only humanitarian service Red Cross is able to offer,” AFP quoted him as saying.

Krzysiek’s remarks came after Syria’s army and allied Lebanese resistance fighters of Hezbollah agreed on a truce on September 20 with militants regarding the fate of the strategic southwestern Syrian town of Zabadani and two key Shia villages of Fuaa and Kefraya in Idlib Province, located in the country’s northwest.

Reached under the UN supervision, the agreement enforces withdrawal of militants from Zabadani, one of the last militant strongholds near the Lebanese border, as well as the evacuation of civilians from the two villages, besieged by an alliance of Takfiri militants, including terrorists of the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front.

The Syrian army’s control over the town would completely cut off the supply lines used by the militants to transfer ammunition and forces into regions near the capital, while it would also secure the highway.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Saturday that militants of Ahrar al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group, members of the foreign-backed Free Syrian Army, and the al-Nusra Front, have begun their transfer from Zabadani to Idlib.

A member of the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front stands in front of piled sandbags as other members sit in a trench near the two Shia villages Fuaa and Kefraya in northwestern Syria on September 22, 2015. (Reuters)

As another part of the first phase of the agreement, some 10,000 Shia inhabitants of the two encircled villages and pro-government wounded fighters are preparing to leave Idlib.

The foreign-backed conflict in Syria, which is now in its fifth year, has reportedly claimed around 250,000 lives up until now.

The United Nations says the militancy has displaced more than 7.2 million Syrians internally, and compelled over four million others to take refuge in neighboring countries, including Jordan and Lebanon.

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