Syria reaches first major truce in civil war in 5 years
On Feb. 26, Syria began a “cessation of hostilities” with initial front-line reports saying that fighting became silent. According to the BBC, however, Syrian state television said several shells had hit residential areas of the capital, Damascus. Other clashes also were reported between government forces and rebel groups. The temporary truce involves the government and rebel forces; Russian airstrikes against rebel groups have also halted. The truce was arranged by the U.S. and Russia and is supported by a U.N. resolution, with a key mission of allowing “desperately needed aid to reach people trapped in besieged areas,” said the BBC.
For further reading: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35674908
Germany declares passports from IS territory invalid
Germany claims passports issued in territory controlled by the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq are invalid. According to Fox News, “the Interior Ministry confirmed a report Saturday by the weekly Der Spiegel that German authorities stopped recognizing the passports Dec. 10.” Security services believe IS took large quantities of blank passports and equipment to make passports when it captured areas in Syria and Iraq.
Journalist from Egypt goes on hunger strike
In a Facebook post Feb. 27, journalist and researcher Hesham Gaafar says he and eight other jailed reporters began a hunger strike in protest of the conditions in which they are being imprisoned in Egypt. His post indicated that “basic needs and visitation rights” are being withheld from him and the others. They are incarcerated in the maximum security ward of Cairo’s Tora prison. Gaafar was charged with being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and was jailed last October. His arrest occurred while his Mada Foundation NGO was raided. This organization “worked on democratic participation and journalism training,” according to Fox News. Gaafar has been kept in solitary confinement.