x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Nato Patriot missiles arrive at Turkish port

Germany, the Netherlands and the United States are providing two batteries each to protect Nato ally Turkey from any possible incoming ballistic missiles from Syria.

ISKENDERUN, Turkey // German Patriot missile systems to be deployed close to the Syrian border arrived at a port in southern Turkey yesterday.

Germany, the Netherlands and the United States are providing two batteries each to protect Nato ally Turkey from any possible incoming ballistic missiles from Syria, where the civil war has left about 60,000 dead.

Violence has flared along Turkey's border with Syria and shells fired from the latter have landed in Turkey, which has retaliated with artillery fire.

In other developments yesterday, the Arab League chief said the mission of the international envoy tasked with resolving Syria's crisis has not yielded even a "flicker of hope".

Nabil Elaraby, addressing the opening session of a two-day Arab economic summit in Riyadh, proposed that the gathered heads of state call for an immediate meeting of the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Syria and establish a monitoring force to ensure compliance with the truce.

Algeria's Lakhdar Brahimi took up his job as international envoy on Syria late last summer.

Meanwhile, the Russian government says it is sending two planes to Lebanon to evacuate about 100 Russians from Syria, the first such effort since the uprising began in March 2011.

Russia, the main ally of Syrian president Bashar Al Assad, said that it has contingency plans in place to evacuate thousands more of its citizens.

In Damascus, the Syrian government blamed a rebel attack on a key power line for a blackout in the city and much of the country's south overnight.

The blackout hit residents especially hard because there are rampant fuel shortages and the winter cold pushed temperatures below freezing overnight.

While Damascus's 2.5 million residents have grown used to power cuts as the conflict damages infrastructure and saps the government's finances, they said the overnight outage was the first to darken the entire capital.

By noon yesterday, power had returned to more than half of the capital and the electricity minister, Imad Khamis, said authorities were working to restore it in other areas.

Also yesterday, Syrian warplanes launched raids on two towns east of Damascus, a monitoring group said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists, doctors and lawyers across the war-torn country, reported that the army shelled and deployed new reinforcements to the rebel-held town of Daraya, as part of its bid to quell the insurgency in the outskirts of Damascus.

* Associated Press and Agence France-Presse