by James Holbrooks, Underground Reporter:
According to state-run Chinese news outlet Xinhua, the Chinese military — citing remarks made by a high-ranking military official during a rare trip to Damascus — is seeking closer ties with war-torn Syria, offering to supply humanitarian aid and even train Syrian military personnel.
On Tuesday, the Director of the Office for Military Cooperation of China’s Central Military Commission, Guan Youfei, flew to Damascus to have discussions with Syrian Defense Minister Fahad Jassim al-Freij, Xinhua says. Director Guan, speaking with Xinhua, noted historical ties between the two countries and highlighted the positive role China has played in seeking a resolution to the fighting in Syria.
Reuters points out that Xinhua, paraphrasing Guan’s words, states: “China’s and Syria’s militaries have a traditionally friendly relationship, and China’s military is willing to keep strengthening exchanges and cooperation.”
China depends on the Middle East for oil imports, but in the past has tended to leave diplomacy to member nations of the U.N. Security Council — chiefly, the U.S., Britain, France, and Russia. However, China has inserted itself more deeply of late.
“But China has been trying to get more involved, including sending envoys to help push for a diplomatic resolution to the violence there and hosting Syrian government and opposition figures.”
The news comes as Syrian government forces, backed by Russian airpower, have established a siege around Aleppo, the last remaining enemy stronghold. Syrian and Russian forces have established humanitarian corridors for which civilians and even rebel fighters can escape — and maintains daily ceasefires for them to do this. Given these developments, it appears the last stand of the rebels may be imminent.
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