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Kurds agree to ceasefire to fight coronavirus

On March 23, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a universal ceasefire amid a global threat of the novel coronavirus
Soldiers with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) coalition AP Photo/Hussein Malla
Soldiers with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) coalition
© AP Photo/Hussein Malla

TASS, March 24. Kurdish units making up the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) coalition have agreed to establish a ceasefire to concentrate all efforts on countering the coronavirus pandemic.

"The SDF command is proposing that all parties to the Syrian conflict support the initiative of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for a universal ceasefire," says the statement communicated by Al-Hadath TV.

Guterres on Monday called on the international community to stop all conflicts around the globe amid the coronavirus pandemic. The SDF voiced hope that the humanitarian ceasefire "will pave the way to dialogue and political process leading to end of war in the whole of Syria."

SDF units are fighting against Turkish forces and armed Syrian opposition troops which in 2018 occupied the Afrin area situated 65 km away from the city of Aleppo. Moreover, Kurdish fighters carry out incursions into northern areas in the Raqqa and Al-Hasakah provinces where Ankara established a safe zone along the Syrian border.

Syrian Health Minister Nizar Yazigi announced Sunday the first coronavirus case in the country. The Syrian government made a decision on Saturday to shut down most state agencies from March 23 until further notice by the authorities over coronavirus fears. According to Syria’s SANA news agency all state and private enterprises will suspend operation but for vital facilities and companies producing food and medicine.

Coronavirus pandemic

In late December 2019, Chinese authorities notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of a previously unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, central China. Since then, cases of the novel coronavirus — named COVID-19 by the WHO — have been reported in more than 190 countries, including Russia.

On March 11, the WHO declared the outbreak a global pandemic. As of now, over 410,000 people have been infected around the world and more than 18,200 have died. Russia has identified 495 cases so far, 22 patients have recovered. The Russian government has launched an Internet hotline to keep the country informed about the coronavirus situation.