Syria Current Affairs

Syrian Army recaptures historic city of Palmyra from IS

Syrian Army and popular defence forces have regained control of the ancient city of Palmyra from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group.

The liberation of the historic city of Palmyra from the ISIS terror group was undertaken by joint efforts of Syrian Army with support of national aviation and Russian Aerospace Forces.

The ancient city of Palmyra is a UNESCO designated World Heritage site and home to some of the world’s most magnificent ancient ruins.

Background

  • ISIS had taken complete control of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra in May 2015. After the seizure of entire ancient city, they had destroyed many ancient ruins.
  • The city is situated in a strategically important area on the road between Syria’s capital Damascus and the oil rich eastern city of Deir al-Zour.
  • Oil and gas produced from the fields located in Deir al-Zour, Syrian government used to generate electricity for areas under its control in the west of the country.
  • Earlier in March 2015, ISIS had demolished several ancient sites that pre-date Islam in Iraq, including UNESCO World Heritage Sites Hatra and Nimrud.

Some facts

Ancient city of Palmyra dates back to the first and second Century when it was under Roman rule. Palmyra was once a Silk Road hub and one of the cultural centres of the ancient world. The city occupies mythological status in Syria and is home to some of the most beautiful and well-preserved ruins of antiquity, including the Temple of Bel, built in 1st century.

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Major General Jai Shanker Menon appointed as UNDOF head

Major General Jai Shanker Menon of India has been appointed as the Head of Mission and Force Commander of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).

He was appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and succeeds Lt Gen Purna Chandra Thapa of Nepal.

In his new role, Maj Gen Menon brings his extensive command experience and knowledge of peacekeeping affairs at the international and national levels.

About Major General Jai Shanker Menon

  • Prior to this appointment, Maj. Gen. Menon was serving as Additional Director General (ADG) Equipment Management in the Indian Army.
  • He has held number of command positions in the Indian Army. Earlier from 2012 to 2013, he had served as General Officer Commanding (GOC) of an Infantry Division.
  • He also has served as Commandant of Regimental Training Centre, Brigade Commander and Battalion Commander.
  • At the international level in the United Nations, he had served as a Military Observer in the UN Operation in Mozambique (ONUMOZ) in 1993 and UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) from 2007 to 2009.

About United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF)

  • The UNDOF was established in 1974 by United Nations Security Council (UNSC) following the agreed disengagement of Syrian and Israeli forces in the Golan Heights.
  • Since then, UNDOF has remained in the area to maintain the ceasefire between Syrian and Israeli forces and to supervise the implementation of the disengagement agreement.

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UN Security Council unanimously adopts resolution on Syria peace plan

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has unanimously adopted a resolution No. 2254 outlining a peace process in Syria.

The resolution endorses an international roadmap for a Syria peace process to end Syria’s five-year-long civil war.

Key facts

  • The resolution endorses formal talks on a political transition between the President Bashar al-Assad led Syrian government and opposition in early January 2016.
  • Calls for implementation of a ceasefire in parallel with the talks on a political transition.
  • Offensive and defensive actions against such terrorist groups in Syria such as ISIS will continue.
  • Calls for establishment of credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance in Syria within six months.
  • Free and fair elections to be held in Syria under UN supervision within 18 months.

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