- Associated Press - Friday, February 12, 2016

BEIRUT (AP) - The Latest on the conflict in Syria and international diplomatic efforts to end the violence (all times local):

5:40 p.m.

Germany’s defense minister has proposed that her country’s military can train Syrian refugees to help them rebuild their country when the war there ends.

Ursula von der Leyen said at a security conference in Munich that pictures of the destruction in Syria make it clear that the country will need people with “very varied capabilities” to rebuild it. She noted Friday that the military offers training to craftspeople, technicians, logisticians and others.

Von der Leyen, who spoke alongside her French counterpart, said that if the peace process is ultimately successful Germany could one day help train Syrian security forces.

Syrians were the largest single group among the nearly 1.1 million people Germany registered as asylum-seekers last year - accounting for more than 400,000 of the total.


5:25 p.m.

Jordan’s King Abdullah is urging the international community to “act as one” diplomatically to stop the civil war in Syria.

Jordan neighbors Syria and is home to large numbers of Syrian refugees. The king noted in his speech to a security conference in Germany Friday that Jordan now hosts one Syrian for every five Jordanians.

Abdullah didn’t explicitly address the agreement reached by international diplomats early Friday to seek a temporary “cessation of hostilities” in Syria’s civil war. But he said that “our world must … act as one on the diplomatic front.”

He added that “the killing in Syria has to stop if we are to move forward and find a political solution, one that protects Syria’s independence and integrity.”


1:40 p.m.

The man who is heading up a humanitarian task force on Syria following an overnight agreement on a cessation of hostilities within a week, says the deal could provide a “breakthrough” to get aid needed to civilians in the war-torn country.

Jan Egeland, who heads the Norwegian Refugee Council, was to lead Friday’s meeting in Geneva of the task force called for under an agreement reached by the International Syria Support Group, under U.S. and Russian leadership.

Egeland said the task force’s main focus is gaining access to besieged towns. He said aid convoys have been denied access and left on stand-by “for too long.”

In a statement, Egeland said a request for access to the most-affected areas was made Friday, and aid could be shipped to some of those areas by early next week.


1 p.m.

Hezbollah’s TV channel says Syrian government forces are in position to target the final supply route to the rebel-held eastern districts of Aleppo, after troops recaptured several strategic hills in the city’s northern countryside.

The advance is part of a broader government offensive to isolate the rebel stronghold, which began in earnest last week when troops supported by allied militias and backed by heavy Russian airstrikes retook the villages of Nubul and Zahra.

The new positions south of Zahra allow forces to target the towns of Anadan, Hraytan, and Kafr Hamra, Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV says.

Government forces were repelled in an effort to retake the hills earlier this week, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports.

The Observatory reports heavy fighting between government and opposition forces a few kilometers south, around the town of Tamoura.



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