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State Dept. issues new travel warning for Syria

State Dept. issues new travel warning for Syria
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The State Department issued a new travel warning for Syria to U.S. citizens Thursday, saying that "fighting still persists" and advising against visiting the war-torn country.

"Although a Cessation of Hostilities (CoH) was announced by the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) Ceasefire Task Force in February 2016, fighting still persists between combatants in Syria," the warning said.

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"Moreover, the CoH does not include ISIL or al-Nusrah Front, which have not renounced the use of violence. The CoH does not make the security situation in Syria any less dangerous for U.S. citizens," it said.

The notice otherwise contains the same language as the last travel warning issued on Aug. 27, 2015.

The State Department has acknowledged that fighting between the regime and anti-regime rebel groups has not halted entirely since a ceasefire took effect last month. Officials, though, have highlighted the reduced violence in the country.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryChina emitted more greenhouse gasses than US, developed world combined in 2019: analysis Overnight Energy: Republicans request documents on Kerry's security clearance process| EPA official directs agency to ramp up enforcement in overburdened communities | Meet Flint prosecutor Kym Worthy Republicans request documents on Kerry's security clearance process MORE and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow touted their cooperation to get the ceasefire.

Kerry said U.S. and Russian efforts made it possible for Syrians to “taste and smell” some progress toward peace after five years of bloodshed, according to Voice of America.

The new tone toward Russia follows the ceasefire and Moscow pulling out some strike aircraft from Syria. 

Despite U.S. warnings not to intervene, Putin ordered Russian troops to begin airstrikes in Syria last September, purportedly to target the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). U.S. commanders said the airstrikes were instead targeting anti-regime troops in order to shore up Syrian President Bashar Assad, a longtime ally of Russia. 

U.S. military officials say Russia still maintains ground troops and artillery in Syria, but their firepower is now directed toward ISIS. 

The Syrian civil war hit the five-year mark earlier this month. The United Nations estimates the fighting left more than 250,000 dead, more than 7.6 million internally displaced and has created more than 4 million refugees.