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Syria battles forest fires for seventh day straight – Region – World


Syrian firefighters and army helicopters Wednesday battled forest fires for a seventh consecutive day in government-held areas of the war-torn country, state media said.

Damascus ally Iran sent in a firefighting plane Wednesday carrying 40 tonnes of water to help fight the fires in the hilly woodlands of Latakia and Hama provinces, in northwestern and central Syria respectively, state news agency SANA said.

State media has published repeated images of billowing smoke above tree tops and charred vegetation.

“Numerous fires have been put out, others brought under control, but the fires continue to rage in some areas” of Latakia, forestry official Hassan Fares told AFP.

The agriculture ministry said steep terrain was an obstacle to fire trucks being able to reach the fire hit areas quickly.

There was no immediate data for how large an area had been affected overall.

But Hama governor Mohammed al-Hazouri said the blaze had ravaged eight square kilometres (three square miles) of agricultural land in his province alone.

Summer fires, sometimes sparked by accident and generally not linked to the war, are common in Syria, but residents have said this year’s are worse than usual.

Syria’s war has killed more than 380,000 people, displaced millions from their homes, and decimated the country’s economy.

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