Syria

Last Updated October 4, 2016

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ITV

Syria conflict to end ‘when Russia stops supporting Assad’

October 4, 2016

The Defence Secretary has said the only way to resolve the conflict in Syria is by getting Russia to withdraw support for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Speaking to ITV News, Michael Fallon said: “The campaign in Syria is much more complicated [than Iraq]. Complicated by the civil war and by Russia’s determination to prop up Assad. “It’s only by getting Russia to withdraw its support for Assad, to join us in looking for a new political settlement there, that we can bring the civil war to an end, get the humanitarian aid in, and then move on Daesh terrorism in Raqqa.”

Despite the international outcry over recent bombing campaigns in Aleppo, Mr Fallon said the UK’s primary objective has been focused on Iraq. “Pilots have been attacking Daesh infrastructure, particularly in eastern Syria, but of course their main focus in the last few months has been on the very successful campaign that’s rolling now in Iraq – the liberation of Fallujah, of Ramadi along the Euphrates – and movement now up the Tigris towards Mosul.”

Copyright © = ITV News

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sputnik

Lavrov: Russian-US Deal on Syria Ruined by Advocates of Military Solution

October 4, 2016

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Russia’s cessation of hostilities agreement with the United States on Syria has been broken down by forces advocating a military solution in the conflict, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday. “Unfortunately, there were many who wanted to break up these agreements from the beginning, including within the US administration,” Lavrov said at a meeting with Saad Hariri, leader of Al-Mustaqbal – Future Movement, a political party in Lebanon “As you know, unfortunately, they succeeded in this yesterday — those who opposed the political settlement of the Syrian crisis, who opposed the implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions, and those who clearly harbor plans of a military scenario,” Lavrov stressed.

At the same time, the United States has proven unable to meet its obligations on Syria, including unblocking Castello road in Aleppo and separating terrorists from armed opposition, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov added. “Because of these internal contradictions, the US was unable to fulfill its obligations under our agreements,” Lavrov said at a meeting with Saad Hariri, leader of Al-Mustaqbal – Future Movement, a political party in Lebanon.

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SOURCE = Sputnik

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wall street journal

Kerry Faults Russia For Prolonging Syria Conflict

October 4, 2016

BRUSSELS—Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. would continue to seek peaceful solutions to the conflict in Syria after shutting down talks with Russia, which he criticized for prolonging the conflict in Syria with its support for the Assad regime.

In his first public comments on the U.S. decision to end the diplomatic effort with Moscow, Mr. Kerry didn’t indicate how the move would alter Washington’s policy and made no mention…

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SOURCE = The Wall Street Journal

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 Reuters

U.S., UK, France, Italy, Germany to meet on Wednesday on Syria: Germany

October 4, 2016

Senior officials from the United States, Britain, France, Italy and Germany are to meet in Berlin on Wednesday to try to find ways to resolve the conflict in Syria, a German foreign ministry official said, confirming a story in the Tagesspiegel daily. In a difficult situation, the goal is to look for suggestions about how to stem the violence in Syria and return to a political process, Tagesspiegel wrote citing a source close to the foreign minister. The United States broke off talks with Russia on Monday on implementing a ceasefire agreement in Syria, accusing Moscow of not living up to its commitments under a Sept. 9 deal to halt fighting and ensure aid reached besieged communities.

Copyright © = Reuters

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Channel NewsAsia

UN’s rights boss warns Russia over Syria air strikes

October 4, 2016

GENEVA: The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights warned Russia on Tuesday over its use of incendiary weapons in air strikes on the Syrian city of Aleppo, where he said attacks on civilian targets may amount to crimes against humanity. The situation in besieged, rebel-held eastern Aleppo demanded bold new initiatives “including proposals to limit the use of the veto by the permanent members of the Security Council”, said High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein. That would enable major powers to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court, a step previously blocked by Russia and China. “Such a referral would be more than justified given the rampant and deeply shocking impunity that has characterised the conflict and the magnitude of the crimes that have been committed, some of which may indeed amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity,” Zeid said in a statement.

Syria’s government and its allies had undertaken a “pattern of attacks” against targets protected by international law, including medical units, aid workers and water-pumping stations, he said. There was no immediate reaction from Russia. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said last week that the Russian air force would continue to support Syrian government troops and that what he called the “war on terror” would continue. Zeid, a former Security Council president, was not advocating abolishing the veto, but lifting it for very serious cases of international crimes, his spokesman Rupert Colville said.

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SOURCE = Channel News Asia

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guardian logo

RAF Reaper drones used in airstrike that killed Syrian troops, MoD says

September 19, 2016

RAF Reaper drones were involved in the weekend airstrike that killed at least 62 Syrian government troops and threatened the fragile truce in the country, the Ministry of Defence has said. An unspecified number of weapons were fired from the drones capable of firing 500lb laser guided bombs and Hellfire missiles, it added. The British military said it was cooperating fully with an investigation by the US-led coalition into the incident, which led to dozens of soldiers being killed and injured, according to Syrian government reports. Australian, Danish and US air forces were also involved in the raid. An MoD spokesman said: “We can confirm that the UK participated in the recent coalition airstrike in Syria, south of Deir ez-Zour on Saturday, and we are fully cooperating with the coalition investigation.

“The UK would not intentionally target Syrian military units. It would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage.” The incident is likely to be the most serious mistake by UK air forces since the House of Commons sanctioned the extension of attacks from Iraq to Syria last December. Until the end of August the Reaper drones had flown 547 sorties in Syria, releasing weapons in 29 of these, including 45 Hellfire missiles. The raids are supposed to be confined to attacks on Islamic State (Isis) fighters. The raid prompted a furious response from Russia and Syria, and led to allegations that the airstrikes on the Syrian soldiers could not have been mistaken. Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, described the attack as “flagrant aggression”.

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SOURCE = The Guardian

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BBC News

Syria conflict: Hopes fade for truce as violence flares

September 19, 2016

A week-old truce in Syria brokered by the US and Russia appears close to unravelling, with alleged violations by government and rebel forces mounting. A US-backed rebel group in the divided northern city of Aleppo said the initiative had “practically failed”. The Syrian military said its seven-day “regime of calm” had expired and did not say if it would be renewed. US Secretary of State John Kerry, however, described the cessation of hostilities as “holding but fragile”. He said US and Russian officials were meeting in Geneva on Monday to discuss developments. Witnesses reported air strikes and artillery fire hitting rebel-held parts of the city of Aleppo after the Syrian army statement.

The Syrian military said rebel groups, which it referred to as “terrorists”, had failed to commit to any provisions of the deal. The army said last week that its “regime of calm” would last until midnight on Sunday and then possibly be renewed. But the latest statement made no mention of a renewal. Mr Kerry denounced the Syrian declaration, saying: “It would be good if they didn’t talk first to the press but if they talked to the people who are actually negotiating this.” Earlier, Russia’s defence ministry said rebel violations had made it “pointless” for Syrian forces to uphold the truce. “Considering that the conditions of the ceasefire are not being respected by the rebels, we consider it pointless for the Syrian government forces to respect it unilaterally,” Lt Gen Sergei Rudskoi said in a televised statement.

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SOURCE = BBC News

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Reuters

Aid trucks hit by air strikes as Syria says ceasefire over

September 19, 2016

Air raids hit aid trucks near the city of Aleppo on Monday, a monitoring group reported, as the Syrian military declared that a week-long ceasefire was over. The attacks were carried out by either Syrian or Russian aircraft, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that there had been 35 strikes in and around Aleppo since the truce ended. The Observatory said the aid trucks had made a delivery organized by an international organization to an area west of Aleppo. The United Nations and Red Cross said they were investigating the reports. A local resident told Reuters by phone that the trucks were hit by around five missile strikes while parked in a center belonging to the Syrian Red Crescent in the town of Urm al-Kubra, near Aleppo. The head of the center and several others were badly injured.

The monitoring group said it was not clear if the jets were Syrian or Russian. Moscow supports President Bashar al-Assad with its air force. The Syrian military could not immediately be reached for comment. The air strikes appeared particularly heavy in insurgent-held areas west of Aleppo, near the rebel stronghold of Idlib province. And in eastern Aleppo, a resident reached by Reuters said there had been dozens of blasts. “It started with an hour of extremely fierce bombing,” said Besher Hawi, the former spokesman for the opposition’s Aleppo city council. “Now I can hear the sound of helicopters overhead. The last two were barrel bombs,” he said, the sound of an explosion audible in the background. Abu al-Baraa al-Hamawi, a rebel commander, said the most intense bombardments had taken in place in areas west of Aleppo, the same area where the aid convoy was hit. “The regime and Russians are taking revenge on all the areas,” he said.

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SOURCE = Rueters

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CNN

Syrian ceasefire hangs in the balance as US, Russia spar

September 19, 2016

(CNN)Syria’s nascent ceasefire hung in the balance Monday, as the regime in Damascus bombed rebel-held areas and the US and Russia traded barbs about who bore  responsibility for the resurgent violence. The Syrian Armed Forces General Command issued a statement Monday declaring that “the US-Russian ceasefire deal started since September 12th is over.” Soon after, its jets struck in and around Aleppo killing and wounding people in the area, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

US officials said that any decisions about the ceasefire would be made between Washington and Moscow, which brokered the deal last week.”The Syrians didn’t make the deal,” Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday, “the Russians made the agreement.”
The US wants to see Russia rein in close ally President Bashar al-Assad, who has battered opposition forces largely supported by the US. At the same time, both the US and Russia are in the skies striking terror targets. The two countries had agreed that completion of a successful seven-day ceasefire would mark the starting point of greater military coordination against ISIS and other militant  groups. Kerry, speaking in New York at the United Nations General Assembly, said that US and Russian officials were meeting in Geneva to discuss the ceasefire and the deliveries of humanitarian aid to besieged areas, which were a key requirement of the deal from the US perspective.

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SOURCE = CNN

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Thomson Reuters Foundation

Syria’s Assad says UN envoy’s local ceasefire bid “worth studying” -state media

November 10, 2014

BEIRUT, Nov 10 (Reuters) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Monday that a proposal by an international peace mediator to implement local ceasefires starting in the northern city of Aleppo was “worth studying”, state media said. United Nations Syria mediator Staffan de Mistura has cited the northern city of Aleppo as an obvious candidate for “incremental freeze zones” to stop localised fighting and allow better access to aid. “(Assad) considered the de Mistura initiative worth studying and trying to work on in order to attain its aims to return security to the city of Aleppo,” the state news agency said.

While two rounds of peace talks between the government and the political opposition this year failed to halt the war, local ceasefires have brought some relief. Local ceasefires have also been mentioned by the United States and Russia. De Mistura said he intends “to proceed now expeditiously on working out the modalities of a freeze in Aleppo city, through further discussions with the Syrian authorities, and intensified consultations with all parties concerned.” In a statement, he described his discussions with Assad as “constructive” and said the aim of a freeze would be to de-escalate violence and allow for a return to normalcy for some civilians caught in the conflict.

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SOURCE = Thomson Reuters Foundation

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bbc

Syria conflict: Assad ‘to study’ UN truce plan for Aleppo

November 10, 2014

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said he will study a UN proposal for “local ceasefires” in the war-ravaged northern city of Aleppo. The UN’s Syria mediator Staffan de Mistura had called for “freeze zones” to halt fighting and improve aid. Mr Assad’s office said it was “worth studying” to return security to Aleppo. Syria’s civil war has hit Aleppo hard. It is split into rebel and government-controlled areas and has seen regular air raids, killing many civilians. More than 200,000 people have lost their lives in the civil war, which is in its fourth year. Mr de Mistura conveyed the ideas to Mr Assad during talks in the Syrian capital, Damascus, in the envoy’s second visit to the country since his appointment in July. Local ceasefires or “incremental freeze zones” have had some effect in other areas of Syria and Mr de Mistura earlier indicated Aleppo would be a good candidate.

The state news agency Sana quoted Mr Assad’s office as saying that the president “considered the de Mistura initiative worth studying and trying to work on in order to attain its aims to return security to the city of Aleppo”. Aleppo has been racked by fighting since July 2012. For the past year it has witnessed almost daily government air force raids, with many civilian casualties. Previous UN envoys have failed to negotiate a full ceasefire between the government and rebel groups.

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SOURCE = BBC News

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The Mail UK

Red Bull gives you jihad: How truck-loads of the energy drink are crossing the border into Syria where ISIS fighters ‘make a fortune extorting fees’

November 10,2014

The radicals of ISIS fighting in Syria and Iraq are believed to be profiting from shipments of Red Bull energy drinks from Turkey. Truck loads of the Austrian-produced brew beloved of teenage clubbers are shipped daily across the border from Turkey into Syria. ISIS commanders may be making a profit on the trades, according to data published in Ankara last week that shows firms based in NATO member Turkey are shipping billions of dollars worth of goods into the war zone.

SIS militants control many border crossing points between the two countries. State control by the Damascus government is now non-existent is and transporters pay tolls and fees to whoever controls the crossing. While Turkey imposed sanctions on Assad three years ago, the cross-border trade is legal and shows up in Turkish customs data, reports Bloomberg. More than £163million in goods this year crossed via the the Turkish border towns of Cilvegozu and Oncupinar, the figures show. They are close to towns which are controlled by the Islamic Front, a coalition of militants fighting both the Assad regime and ISIS. Meanwhile, £201million in goods crossed into Syria from nearby Gaziantep.

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SOURCE = The Daily Mail

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CBS News

Syrian government strikes ISIS-controlled town in Syria

November 9, 2-14

BEIRUT – Syrian government helicopters and warplanes carried out a series of airstrikes overnight on a northern town controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), killing at least 21 people, activists said Sunday. The air raids struck the town of al-Bab in Aleppo province late Saturday and lasted through early Sunday morning. The Aleppo Media Center activist collective and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights both reported the attacks. Observatory director Rami Abdurrahman said there were 10 strikes in total, including seven so-called barrel bombs dropped from helicopters. He said at least 21 people were killed and more than 100 wounded.

The Aleppo Media Center put the death toll at 30, with 85 wounded. Differences in casualty figures are common in the chaotic aftermath of attacks in Syria. President Bashar Assad’s air force routinely bombs towns held by the ISIS as well as areas controlled by mainstream rebel brigades. A U.S.-led coalition also is conducting an aerial campaign against ISIS and other extremists in Syria and Iraq. Washington says it does not coordinate its airstrikes with Damascus. The international coalition has recently focused much of its firepower on ISIS fighters attacking the predominantly Kurdish town of Kobani on Syria’s northern border with Turkey. The extremists launched an offensive against the town, which is also known as Ayn Arab, in mid-September. After making initial gains in Kobani, the ISIS assault has slowed to a bitter grind.

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SOURCE – CBS News

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ITV

Northern Ireland man remanded on Syria terror charges

November 8, 2014

A man from Northern Ireland charged with receiving weapons training from opposition forces in the Syrian civil war has told police he was involved in battles against both Islamic State fighters and the government regime, a court has heard. Eamon Bradley, from Derry, gave police extensive reports of his role in the conflict earlier this year, the city’s magistrates court was told. He was arrested on Thursday after returning from Syria. He appeared in court charged under UK terror legislation with committing two offences in Syria – possession of explosives with intent to endanger life, namely a grenade, and receiving training in arms and explosives.

Copyright © 2014: ITV News

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The Independent

British hostage threatened by Isis militants was seized last year in Syria

September 3, 2014

The British hostage whose life has been threatened by Islamist terrorists is a 44-year-old who was seized near the Turkish border last year. The man, whose name is being withheld by UK media at the request of his family, has worked in some of the world’s most dangerous regions. He lives with his wife near Zagreb, Croatia. The couple are believed to have a young child and run a catering supplies company that operates throughout the Balkans. The hostage was born in Yorkshire and raised in Perth, central Scotland. It is understood he had previously been married to a British woman, with whom he had a 17-year-old daughter. Terrorist group Isis, which now controls vast swathes of Iraq and Syria, has threatened to kill the Briton if US airstrikes targeting their organisation continue.

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SOURCE = The Independent

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Middle East Online

Islamic State vows to ‘de-throne’ Putin over support of Syria regime

September 3, 2014

MOSCOW – Islamic State militants have issued a threat to President Vladimir Putin, vowing to oust him and “liberate” the volatile North Caucasus over his support of the Syrian regime. The General Prosecutor’s Office of Russia demanded that access to the address, which was posted on YouTube on Tuesday and features what jihadists say is a Russian-supplied fighter jet, be blocked. “This is a message to you, oh Vladimir Putin, these are the jets that you have sent to Bashar, we will send them to you, God willing, remember that,” said one fighter in Arabic, according to Russian-language captions provided in the video. “And we will liberate Chechnya and the entire Caucasus, God willing,” said the militant. “The Islamic State is and will be and it is expanding God willing.”

“Your throne has already teetered, it is under threat and will fall when we come to you because Allah is truly on our side,” said the fighter. “We are already on our way God willing.” In the same video, several fighters, some dressed in traditional Muslim robes, threaten Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad from atop the fighter jet. “This is Russian equipment,” says a voice, speaking in accented Russian, as the camera cuts to a close-up of the plane’s cabin.

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SOURCE = Middle East Online

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The Mail UK

‘This message is addressed to you, oh Putin’: ISIS now threatens Russia over its ties to Syria’s Assad and promises to ‘liberate Chechnya and all the Caucasus’

September 3, 2014

Vladimir Putin was today directly and personally threatened by the Islamic State because of his close ties to Syrian leader Bashar Hafez al-Assad. The chilling warning, delivered by a member of the terror group, puts the Kremlim leader on the same side as the West in holding back Muslim extremism. But at the same time, he remains at loggerheads with the U.S. and Europe in the worst crisis since the Cold War. In a video on Al-Arabiya TV channel, an ISIS rebel sits in the cockpit of a captured Russian-made fighter aircraft in the Tabak area of the Syrian province of Rakka. A second fighter warns: ‘This message is addressed to you, oh Vladimir Putin. These are your aircraft which you sent to Bashar, and with the help of Allah we will send them back to you. ‘Remember this. And with the permission of Allah we will liberate Chechnya and all the Caucasus.

“The Islamic State exists and it will exist and it will expand with the help of Allah. Your throne is already shaking. It is in danger and it will collapse  when we get to you. We are on the way with Allah’s permission.’ The threatening footage comes with Russian subtitles, but the voice of a Russian speaker can be heard too. In the sequence, in which the Islamic warriors clamber over the Sukhoi fighter, they also threaten the Syrian dictator, branding him a ‘pig’ and vowing to ‘use these aircraft to get to you’. The message of hate to Putin follows his strong support for Assad, without which he is likely to have been toppled. Putin is also loathed by Islamic extremists and terror groups for crushing attempts to set up an Islamic state in Chechnya, and in other mainly Muslim regions of southern Russia such as Dagestan. The Russian leader has long argued that the West has missed the danger of such extremist groups while criticising him for human rights abuses in his clampdown.

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SOURCE = The Daily Mail

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The Scotsman

Glasgow woman left for Syria ‘promoting terrorism’

September 3, 2014

A YOUNG woman educated at private school in Glasgow has travelled to Syria where she is understood to have promoted terrorism from her Twitter account. Aqsa Mahmood, 20, was reported missing by her family last November. She was previously a pupil at the private Craigholme School and then Shawlands Academy in Glasgow. A Twitter account under the name Umm Layth, which has now been deactivated, is believed to has been set up by Mahmood. The posts included one which encourages others to copy those who killed Fusilier Drummer Lee Rigby in London last year.

It said: “Follow the examples of your brothers from Woolwich, Texas and Boston.” Another read: “If you cannot make it to the battlefield then bring the battlefield to yourself.” Last night, members of her family said they knew nothing of her plans and they could not understand why she left. In a statement, issued through Police Scotland, her family said: “We had no knowledge of our daughter’s plans to leave Scotland and immediately reported her as a missing person to the police. “Aqsa is a studious and ambitious girl and we cannot understand why she has travelled to Syria.

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SOURCE = The Scotsman

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logoTimeSpecials

Senate Democrat Wants Bill Allowing Anti-ISIS Strikes in Syria

September 2, 2014

A Democratic senator said Tuesday that he’ll introduce legislation to give President Barack Obama “clear authority” to order U.S. airstrikes against Islamist militants in Syria. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) said he’ll file the legislation when Congress returns from recess next week. It wasn’t immediately clear if Nelson, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, would introduce the measure as stand-alone legislation or as part of a larger defense spending bill. He previewed the legislative move the same day that the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) released a video purportedly showing the beheading death of American journalist Steven Sotloff—footage that, if authenticated, would be the second such video showing the group executing an American journalist in as many weeks.

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SOURCE = Time Magazine

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Middle East Online

Clock ticks on Syria handover of entire chemical stockpile

April 27, 2014

DAMASCUS – Syria still holds around eight percent of its chemical weapons material, missing a deadline to remove or destroy it all, the mission overseeing the destruction of its arsenal said Sunday. Despite the slip, the head of the mission, Sigrid Kaag, said she was still hopeful a June 30 deadline for the complete destruction of Syria’s chemical arms would be met. Syria’s parliament meanwhile announced four new candidates have submitted applications to run in presidential elections scheduled for June 3. And Iraq’s interior ministry said Iraqi army helicopters attacked a jihadist convoy in eastern Syria as it tried to approach the border, killing at least eight people.

Speaking in Damascus, Kaag said 7.5-8.0 percent of Syria’s declared chemical weapons material remained in-country, at “one particular site.” “However, 92.5 percent of chemical weapons material removed or destroyed is signficant progress,” she said. “We also however need to… ensure the remaining 7.5-8.0 percent of the chemical weapons material is also removed and destroyed.” Of that amount, 6.5 percent would be removed from Syria, she said. “A small percentage is to be destroyed, regardless, in-country. That can be done. It’s a matter of accessing the site,” she added.

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SOURCE = Middle East Online

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bbc

Syria ‘still holds chemical weapons’ – OPCW head Kaag

April 27, 2014

The head of the task force in charge of eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons says Damascus still holds about 7.5% of its 1,300-tonne stockpile at one site. Envoy Sigrid Kaag urged the Syrian government to meet a Sunday deadline to remove its arsenal from the country. All Syria’s chemical weapons are scheduled to be destroyed by 30 June. The Russian-US deal to eliminate Syria’s arsenal was drawn up last year after hundreds of people died in a sarin rocket attack outside Damascus. The multinational mission to get rid of the weapons is overseen by the UN Security Council and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

“The biggest bulk of the chemical weapons material is removed but not yet destroyed and that counts towards the 30 June deadline. That’s why it’s so important to get the remainder of the chemical weapons material that is still in one site,” Ms Kaag, the head of the OPCW, told the BBC. She also said the UN was concerned by recent reports that Syrian forces had used chlorine gas as a weapon. Chlorine was not a substance included in the deal, which is widely seen as having averted US military action against the Syrian government.

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SOURCE = BBC News

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Middle East Online

Iraq military intervention targets ISIL jihadists inside Syria

April 27, 2014

BAGHDAD – Iraqi army helicopters attacked a jihadist convoy inside eastern Syria on Sunday as it tried to approach the border, killing at least eight people, an interior ministry spokesman said. “The army struck eight tanker trucks in Wadi Suwab inside Syrian territory as they were trying to enter Iraqi territory to provide the (jihadist) Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) with fuel,” Brigadier General Saad Maan said. It was the first time Iraq’s military has said it carried out an attack in Syria, and Maan said “there was no coordination with the Syrian regime” over the strike.

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SOURCE = Middle East Online

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bbc

Police make Syria plea to UK Muslim women

April 24, 2014

British counter-terrorism police chiefs are making an unprecedented appeal to Muslim women to persuade their relatives not to go to Syria to fight. The national campaign for women to intervene follows a string of deaths of UK men who joined Syria’s civil war against President Assad’s regime. Co-ordinated events are being held in London, Birmingham and Manchester. Critics and campaigners questioned whether the police were trusted enough to get their message across. Security chiefs think hundreds of people have travelled from the UK to fight in Syria, some of whom have returned. Forty people have been arrested for alleged Syria-related offences during the first three months of this year – almost double the number held during the whole of 2013, police said. And reports suggest up to 20 men from Britain have died in the conflict. Recent deaths have included Crawley father-of-three Abdul Waheed Majeed – who became the first British suicide bomber in the war – and a teenager from Brighton.

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SOURCE = BBC News

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74cc8-guardian_logo

Syria: UN chief calls for action to get aid to 3.5m people cut off by war

April 24, 2014

The United Nations secretary general has called on the security council to take urgent action to ensure 3.5 million people cut off by fighting in Syria have access to food, water and medical help. Ban Ki-moon said the blocking of humanitarian supplies represented “flagrant violations of the basic principles of international law”. He said both sides in the war were responsible for hampering access to life-saving assistance, but his report to the UN security council said that more than 80% of the nearly quarter of a million people in the worst conditions, totally cut off from help, were in areas besieged by government forces. These included as the old centre of Homs, Madamiyet Elsham, Eastern Ghouta, Darayya and Yarmouk. About 45,000 people are in areas besieged by opposition forces in Nubul and Zahra. Ban pointed out that two months after the security council passed a resolution demanding humanitarian access to the war’s victims, “none of the parties to the conflict have adhered to the demands of the council. Civilians are not being protected.

The security situation is deteriorating and humanitarian access to those most in need is not improving.” He said medicine was being routinely denied to those who needed them, including tens of thousands of women, children and older people. “The security council must take action to deal with these flagrant violations of the basic principles of international law.” Ban, however, did not stipulate what action the council should take. The body is deadlocked by disagreements between Russia and the western powers, now exacerbated by the freeze in relations over Ukraine. The head of Save the Children, Justin Forsyth, said that with millions of people cut off from outside help “we are witnessing the kind of horrors never thought possible in 2014: children starving to death, operations without anaesthetic, injuries from explosive weapons left untreated”.

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SOURCE = The Guardian

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