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US forbids Serbia from de-mining Syria

US forbids Serbia from de-mining Syria

The United States has sought and been given assurances by the Serbian government and military that Serbian de-mining experts will not be deploying to Syria to assist in removing the ubiquitous horrific mines and other explosive devices left behind by a retreating ISIS, Serbian media sources reported.

The news circulated based on quotes from US Embassy Belgrade personnel.  

The Ron Paul Institute underscored that more than 600,000 Syrians have returned to areas liberated by the Syrian government with the assistance of Russia and Iranian forces that were once occupied by Daesh or other extremist groups. This comes at the time terrorist forces continue to exist in Syria and simultaneously as the US prevents Serbia from helping demine the country.

According to the source, the “spat” between US Ambassador to Belgrade Kyle Scott and Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin began when the Serbian side announced that it would participate in the de-mining efforts in Syria in a manner that would have Serbian forces coordinating with Russians. The Americans reminded their Serb allies, through US Embassy spokesman Eric Heyden, that: “…the US government provided significant donations in money, equipment and training to help the Serbian Army get rid of the mines left over from the war, and thus make Serbia a safer place. That is why, over the past 15 years, we have provided more that USD 20 million in aid for mine clearing operations in Serbia. During our last major joint exercise, in April 2017, the US government donated some USD 450,000 in medical and demining equipment to the Serbian Army to improve its capacities…”

Moreover, the Institute quoted sources as reporting earlier this year that the joy of returning to a life where the scourge of ISIS has been eliminated can be cut short in an instant by what ISIS has left behind.

The Economist had reported earlier this year on the matter, quoting a former fighter from Syria.

“The first explosion killed our neighbor and his sister-in-law when they entered their house,’ said fighter Ali Hussain Omari. “Three days later another mine killed my cousin. His 11-year-old daughter’s leg was amputated and their house was destroyed. A week later another mine in an olive tree exploded. My neighbor lost his leg.” He went on to say.

Washington’s concerns over Serb participation in de-mining in Syria were, according to press reports, heeded by Belgrade.

Heyden further announced that “Media reports from Russia have stated that de-miners from Serbia would be deployed together with Russian forces in Syria. In the last six months, in our numerous conversations with the leadership of the Ministry of Defense and the VS General Staff, the US government received multiple assurances that this story is incorrect, and that the goal of our bilateral training was to enable members of the Serbian Army to clear the area of the former military airport in Sjenica, and to open it for use…”

Once that was settled, the US announced that it “has plans for next year to continue helping to develop the Serbian Army’s capacity in this project.”