Colombia suspends bombing raids on FARC
NEWS CENTER (DİHA) - Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on July 25 ordered a halt to air strikes against FARC guerrillas, giving a major boost to stop-start peace talks.
It comes just two days after the Colombian government and the FARC resumed talks following months of stagnation at the negotiating table and fighting on the battlefield. The talks designed to end the 50-year conflict -- Latin America's oldest insurgency -- have been dragging on since November 2012.
"I have issued the order to stop as of today bombing raids against camps where there are members of that group," Santos said in an address at a navy event in the northern city of Cartagena. "We have agreed to de-escalate the conflict. What does that mean? Fewer deaths, less pain, fewer victims," he added, saying only the president could authorize further bombing strikes and hinting he was prepared to do so as long as they did not threaten urban areas.
Santos similarly suspended the bombing campaign in March but ordered a resumption a month later after the guerrillas allegedly killed 11 soldiers. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been observing a unilateral, one-month ceasefire since Monday, but Santos had initially refused to reciprocate. The latest efforts at speeding up the fragile peace process come after the conflict heated up once more in the spring, with dozens killed on both sides and many Colombians increasingly disillusioned with the pace of talks.
But on July 12 the two sides reached an accord to de-escalate and pledged to get back to the negotiating table. Bogota agreed for the first time to reduce its anti-guerrillas operations, a significant step in the talks in the Cuban capital Havana. Nevertheless, sporadic clashes have continued.