Russian Failure to Help Battle Syria’s Forest Fires Angers Damascus

A Syrian man attempting to put off a fire on a hill in Ain Halaqim, in the western countryside of Syria's Hama governorate. AFP)
A Syrian man attempting to put off a fire on a hill in Ain Halaqim, in the western countryside of Syria's Hama governorate. AFP)
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Russian Failure to Help Battle Syria’s Forest Fires Angers Damascus

A Syrian man attempting to put off a fire on a hill in Ain Halaqim, in the western countryside of Syria's Hama governorate. AFP)
A Syrian man attempting to put off a fire on a hill in Ain Halaqim, in the western countryside of Syria's Hama governorate. AFP)

Damascus has been angered by Russia’s failure to help it battle forest fires in regime-held areas of the war-torn country.

The head of the Civil Defense, Maj. Gen. Saeed Awad, said Syria hasn’t witnessed such fires for years. “Cooperation with armed forces had the biggest role in containing many fires.”

But he said that the Civil Defense “hasn’t been offered any assistance from friendly countries, such as Russia, to fight the fires.”

Syrian firefighters and army helicopters Wednesday battled forest fires for the seventh consecutive day.

Damascus ally Iran sent in a firefighting plane Wednesday carrying 40 tons of water to help fight the fires in the hilly woodlands of Latakia and Hama provinces, in northwestern and central Syria respectively, state news agency SANA said.

State media has published repeated images of billowing smoke above tree tops and charred vegetation.

"Numerous fires have been put out, others brought under control, but the fires continue to rage in some areas" of Latakia, forestry official Hassan Fares told AFP.

The agriculture ministry said steep terrain was an obstacle to fire trucks being able to reach the fire hit areas quickly.

There was no immediate data for how large an area had been affected overall.

But Hama governor Mohammed al-Hazouri said the blaze had ravaged eight square kilometers of agricultural land in his province alone.

Summer fires, sometimes sparked by accident and generally not linked to the war, are common in Syria, but residents have said this year's are worse than usual.



US Military Pier Operations in Gaza Suspended after Piece Breaks Off

US Navy personnel construct a JLOTS, which stands for "Joint Logistics Over-the Shore" temporary pier which will provide a ship-to-shore distribution system to help deliver humanitarian aid into Gaza, in an undated handout picture in the Mediterranean Sea. (US Central Command/Handout via Reuters/File Photo)
US Navy personnel construct a JLOTS, which stands for "Joint Logistics Over-the Shore" temporary pier which will provide a ship-to-shore distribution system to help deliver humanitarian aid into Gaza, in an undated handout picture in the Mediterranean Sea. (US Central Command/Handout via Reuters/File Photo)
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US Military Pier Operations in Gaza Suspended after Piece Breaks Off

US Navy personnel construct a JLOTS, which stands for "Joint Logistics Over-the Shore" temporary pier which will provide a ship-to-shore distribution system to help deliver humanitarian aid into Gaza, in an undated handout picture in the Mediterranean Sea. (US Central Command/Handout via Reuters/File Photo)
US Navy personnel construct a JLOTS, which stands for "Joint Logistics Over-the Shore" temporary pier which will provide a ship-to-shore distribution system to help deliver humanitarian aid into Gaza, in an undated handout picture in the Mediterranean Sea. (US Central Command/Handout via Reuters/File Photo)

A part of the US military's pier off Gaza has broken off, rendering it temporarily inoperable, two US officials said, in the latest blow to efforts to deliver humanitarian aid to Palestinians.

The US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said bad weather was believed to be the reason that the part had broken off. They did not say how big the part was or speculate on how long it would take for the pier to resume operations.

The pier was announced by US President Joe Biden in March and involved the military assembling the floating structure off the coast. Estimated to cost $320 million for the first 90 days and involve about 1,000 US service members, it went into operation two weeks ago.

Since the pier began operations, the United Nations has transported 137 trucks of aid from the pier - the equivalent of 900 metric tons - said a UN World Food Program (WFP) spokesperson.