Colombia halts raids on FARC rebels to accelerate peace process
Iran Press TV
Sun Jul 26, 2015 5:51AM
The Colombian government has suspended air raids on the camps belonging to rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) after the two sides decided to negotiate a lasting peace agreement.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced the decision in an address at a military event in the northern coastal city of Cartagena on Saturday night.
"I have issued the order to stop as of today bombing raids against camps where there are members of that group," Santos said, adding that the move was in response to the FARC's latest unilateral ceasefire.
The Colombian president, however, noted that the ban on airstrikes could be removed if the FARC camps pose a risk to civilians or the country's infrastructure.
The development came after the FARC rebels observed a unilateral truce starting on July 20.
Back in April, the Colombian army resumed its air raids on the FARC positions after the rebels killed 11 soldiers in an ambush.
The Colombian government and the FARC rebels have been holding peace talks in the Cuban capital city of Havana since late 2012, but the negotiations have been overshadowed by sporadic battlefield violence.
In the latest round of negotiations, Colombian warring sides agreed to seek a bilateral ceasefire in the coming months even before a final peace accord is reached.
Touching on a possible bilateral truce, Santos further said, "We've agreed to de-escalate the conflict. That means fewer deaths, less suffering and fewer victims."
FARC is Latin America's oldest rebel group and has been fighting the government since 1964. More than 200,000 people have been killed in clashes between the two sides.
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