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SYRIA

Germany warns that Trump’s Syria pullout could hurt fight against IS

Germany warned Thursday that US President Donald Trump's decision to pull troops out of Syria could endanger a battle against Islamic State militants and jeopardize achievements on the front.

Germany warns that Trump's Syria pullout could hurt fight against IS
Two US Army vehicles in front of an American base near Manbidsch in Syria in March. Photo: DPA

“The IS has been pushed back, but the threat is not over. There is a danger that the consequences of (Trump's) decision could hurt the fight against the IS and endanger what has been achieved,” said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in a statement.

The battle against the Islamist militants would be “decided in the long run – militarily and with civilian means”, said Maas.

The Foreign Minister stressed the need for a political process under the auspices of the United Nations, in order to bring lasting stability back to war-torn Syria.

Trump suddenly ordered the withdrawal of 2,000 American troops from Syria on Wednesday, in a move that shocked allies, asserting that IS had been defeated.

But major allies, including senior Republicans and foreign powers, have disputed the claim and say the move could lead to a resurgence of IS.

US troops have helped clear much of Syria's north-east of the jihadist group, but pockets of fighters remain.

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SANCTIONS

Germany summons Belarus envoy over forced Ryanair landing

Germany said on Monday it had summoned the Belarusian ambassador over the forced landing of an airliner and detention of a critical journalist.

Germany summons Belarus envoy over forced Ryanair landing
A woman stands with a poster reading 'Where is Roman (Protasevich)?!' in the arrival area as passengers disembark from a Ryanair passenger plane from Athens, Greece, that was intercepted and diverted to Minsk on the same day by Belarus authorities. Photo: Petras Malukas/AFP

“The explanations of the Belarusian government for the forced landing of a Ryanair plane in Minsk are absurd and not credible,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement.

“We need clarity on what really happened on board and on the ground,” he added, saying that ambassador Denis Sidorenko was expected at his ministry Monday evening.

Maas said Berlin also expected “clarity about the wellbeing” of the detained journalist, Roman Protasevich, and his girlfriend, saying both “must
be released immediately”.

He said a senior official at the ministry, Miguel Berger, would meet with Sidorenko, while EU leaders debate “consequences” at a summit in Brussels.

The Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius carrying Protasevich was diverted while in Belarusian airspace over a supposed bomb threat.

Accompanied by a Belarusian fighter jet on the orders of strongman Alexander Lukashenko, the plane landed in Minsk where Protasevich, a
26-year-old who had been living in Lithuania, was arrested along with his Russian girlfriend.

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