Is Syria crisis to escalate?

The Russia-US memorandum on preventing air incidents over Syria has not been officially resumed, but an exchange of information continues, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Friday. “The exchange of information… continues, but officially we are not announcing that the effect of this document has been resumed,” TASS quoted him as saying. “The volume of information exchange is determined, as I understand, depending on the situation,” he added. Russia suspended the memorandum after the US delivered a missile strike on the Shayrat military airfield in Syria on April 7.

Russia, Syria and Iran have strongly warned the United States against launching new strikes on Syria. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, along with his Iranian and Syrian counterparts at a trilateral meeting in Moscow today denounced last week’s U.S. attack on Syria.

They warned that any further such action would entail grave consequences not only for regional but global security.

The Syrian Government and rebel groups have begun an operation to move people away from four besieged towns. People from the north-western towns of Foah and Kefraya are being taken to government-held areas near Aleppo. Evacuees from rebel-held Madaya, near Damascus, have been bussed to Idlib province. Syrian government and opposition forces began a coordinated population swap Friday of about 10,000 people from four towns besieged for years. About 5,000 people were evacuated on 75 buses from two pro-government towns in northern Syria to the nearby city of Aleppo, said Abdul Hakim Baghdadi, who helped negotiate the arrangement. The predominantly Shiite Foua and Kfraya have remained loyal to the Syrian government while the surrounding Idlib province has come under hard-line Sunni, rebel rule. Near the capital of Damascus, some 60 buses carrying 2,350 opposition fighters, activists and their families departed from two opposition-held towns in the direction of Idlib, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group and Syrian state media

Last month, the UN described the situation in the four towns as catastrophic, with more than 64,000 civilians trapped in a cycle of daily violence and deprivation. Many people are reported to have died as a result of shortages of food or medicine.

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