ANKARA, August 12 -- The Turkish state can’t tolerate the gains by people of North and East Syria, or the democratic system they built, so they aim to invade the area under the guise of a “safe zone”.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavuşoğlu continued to issue threats of invasion against North and East Syria. Cavuşoğlu said: “What we say about the east of the Euphrates is this: We will either clear the area together, or Turkey will enter and clear away the terrorists. Like they were cleared from Afrin, like ISIS was cleared from Jarablus, we will clear the east of the Euphrates from YPG and PKK. Whatever the price may be. There is no change in our resolve here. We won’t let the US delay things like Manbij. We say this clearly, and we told them the same.” The Turkish state can’t tolerate the gains by people of North and East Syria, or the democratic system they built, so they aim to invade the area under the guise of a “safe zone”. North and East Syrian officials see Turkey’s insistence on a 32 km deep safe zone as an attempt to massacre the peoples of the region and to invade the area as a whole, and counter-propose patrols along the border under supervision by the international coalition, outside residential areas. North and East Syrian officials warn that a possible Turkish state attack will make the control of thousands of ISIS members in prisons difficult and risk subjecting the region and the world to terrorist attacks. They also say they will resist to the end.
DAMASCUS, July 7 -- Tens of families returned to check their homes in the town of Al Qusayr in central Syria on Sunday, the first batch of civilians back to the town since it was liberated from the rebels in 2013.
Holding posters of President Bashar al-Assad and Syrian flags, the civilians entered the town in the countryside of Homs province in central Syria and surrounding villages to check on their homes. Talal Barazi, the governor of Homs, who was receiving the people in the town, told reporters that after the surrounding areas of the town were liberated from the Islamic State (IS) militants and like-minded groups, the government started clearing off the roads and restoring the infrastructure. About 70 percent of the infrastructure was fixed as other parts of the town are severely damaged, he said. Some logistic preparations have also been made to secure the town, he said, noting that it is an important economic area in the Homs province. The governor said there is a plan to restore three schools in three months by the start of the next education year. The Al Qusayr area is considered of strategic importance because it lies between the capital Damascus and the Mediterranean coast, and is close to the Lebanese border.
On April 4, 2013, the Syrian army launched an offensive against al-Qusayr, with the aim of capturing all villages around the rebel-held town and eventually the town itself. On June 5, 2013, the Syrian army finally regained control of al-Qusayr. Barazi, the governor, said there will be more people returning to the town, adding that more than 130 families have so far returned to the city of Palmyra in the countryside of Homs so far. He said that people are returning to their homes even from neighboring Lebanon, adding that 17 batches of the Syrian refugees have returned home in Homs from Lebanon.
Author: Lora Smith
WASHINGTON, June 23 -- The United States has revealed a proposal to create a $50bn global investment fund for the Palestinians and neighboring Arab states, designed to be the economic engine of the long-awaited US Middle East peace plan.
The plan was posted on the White House website on Saturday, two days before a US-led workshop in Bahrain where the economic portion of the so-called "deal of the century" is set to be discussed. The Manama conference is taking place despite opposition from the Palestinians, who will not attend. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday rejected the economic plan and the US peace effort, which is led by President Donald Trump's senior adviser Jared Kushner.
"The economic situation should not be discussed before the political one," Abbas said on Saturday. "As long as there is no political solution, we do not deal with any economic solution."
Speaking to Reuters news agency, Kushner, who is also Trump's son-in-law, said the economy-first approach was "necessary" to break away from the political side, as it would be "less controversial". "Let's let people study it, give feedback," he said. "Let's try to finalize if we can all agree on what that could look like in the event of a peace agreement."
Fundamental political issues such as the occupation of Palestinian territories, the right of return for refugees and their descendants (of which roughly five million live in refugee camps in neighboring Arab countries) and border sovereignty were not mentioned in the plan. Instead, the economic scheme included 179 infrastructure and business projects, a billion-dollar investment to build up the Palestinians' tourism sector, and a $5bn transportation corridor to connect the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
DAMASCUS, June 10 -- Authorities in northeast Syria have been urging Western countries to take back citizens who joined Islamic State.
France and the Netherlands have taken custody of 14 French and Dutch orphans of Islamic State (IS) fighters in northeast Syria, an official in the Kurdish-led administration there said on Monday. Authorities in northeast Syria have been urging Western countries to take back citizens who joined IS and their relatives after the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) captured the group's last enclave earlier this year. Abdulkarim Omar, co-chair of the foreign relations committee of the administration that runs the northeastern quarter of Syria held by the SDF, said it had handed over the children to foreign ministry delegations from France and the Netherlands. France took back 12 orphaned French children from IS families and the Netherlands took back two Dutch orphans, he said in Tweets. Last week, the Kurdish-led authorities said they had repatriated two US women along with six children. Few countries have yet seemed willing to take back their citizens, who may be hard to prosecute. The Kurdish-led administration and the SDF have said they cannot indefinitely hold thousands of foreigners, but no clear international policy has emerged over how to handle the issue. Many of the relatives of captured IS fighters are located in al-Hol, a camp for displaced people where aid agencies have warned of dire humanitarian conditions.
Under British and international law, it is illegal to make an individual stateless. Britain, however, can make its citizens stateless if they have dual nationality. Critics of the move claim that Javid made the decision to revoke Begum's citizenship because she would be eligible for Bangladeshi citizenship because of her parents' heritage. The Bangladesh government has rejected the UK claim that she is a Bangladesh citizen.
On Sunday, one of Britain's most senior judges questioned Javid's decision to revoke Begum of her British citizenship. Jonathan Sumption, who retired as a justice of the Supreme Court in December, indicated that the Home Secretary may have broken international law with his actions. Speaking on the BBC's Reith Lecture, Lord Sumption said: "I am frankly surprised at the suggestion that she can be regarded as the citizen of a country with which she has never had anything to do [with], but that is the government's position and I have no doubt it will be tested in the courts in due course." Asked if the removal of citizenship also meant a person lost their standing under human rights, Lord Sumption said: "What they lose is their citizenship. That doesn't necessarily deprive them of their standing when it comes to human rights. "I have no problem with the notion of depriving people of their citizenship who have gone abroad to fight in foreign wars save this. "It's an established principle of international law that you cannot deprive somebody of his or her citizenship if the result would be to render them stateless. "And whatever they may have done in Syria or anywhere else, that rule has always been applied and will no doubt be applied in this case." Two independent legal challenges have been launched in response to Javid's decision to revoke Begum of her citizenship.
DAMASCUS, June 2 -- Syria’s air defenses have destroyed the enemy’s air targets on the southern outskirts of Damascus on Sunday.
The news agency SANA reported that explosions can be heard in this area. According to the agency, the air defenses successfully repelled the enemy targets coming out of the Golan Heights at 2:22. The TV channel Al Arabiya reported, citing the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, that the attack was carried out against Hezbollah’s base and arms depots.
MOSCOW, May 22 -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has held a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss the situation in Syria in the context of multiple ceasefire violations in Idlib, the Kremlin press service said.
"The sides comprehensively exchanged opinions on the Syrian issue, including in light of multiple ceasefire violations in Idlib by radical armed groups. The Russian president informed his colleagues about joint efforts with Turkey on stabilizing the situation in Syria's north-west, on protecting civilians and netralizing terrorist threats," the Kremlin said. "Special attention was paid to prospects of forming and launching a constitutional committee, with the consideration of agreements reached in October 2018 at the four-party summit (Russia, Turkey, Germany, France) in Istanbul. The sides agreed to continue coordinating efforts in the framework of political settlement of the Syrian crisis on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 2254, in accordance with principles of ensuring Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity," the press service added. On Monday, militants from the Idlib de-escalation zone, together with the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham terrorist group (formerly Jebhat al-Nusra, banned in Russia), launched an offensive at positions of Syrian govenrment forces, with the use of tanks. The Russian Center fore reconciliation of the conflicting sides in Syria said that the Syrian government forces are repelling the attacks. Militants also attempted to shell the Hmeymim airbase multiple times. Russian servicemen said that shellings and provocations by militants continued even after the ceasefire agreement entered into force on May 18.
Situation in Ukraine
The sides also discussed Ukraine in the telephone conversation. "The situation was discussed around the crisis in Ukraine given the bankrupt policies of the administration of Pyotr Poroshenko and the change of the state leadership in Ukraine," the Kremlin said. The parties agreed that "there is no alternative to the 2015 Minsk Package of Measures as a basis for the peace settlement," the press service added. "The Russian president reiterated the priority of carrying into effect the law on a special status for the certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, giving it a permanent nature, holding amnesty, disengaging forces and means on the earlier coordinated sections along the contact line, as well as moves to establish a direct dialogue between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk," the press service said. Putin also "drew attention of the interlocutors to the discriminatory law ‘On the functioning of the Ukrainian language as the state language’ passed by the Verkhovna Rada. He expressed bewilderment about the refusal of some countries to discuss in the UN Security Council this document that goes against the Ukrainian Constitution, the Minsk agreements and Kiev’s international obligations to protect national and language minorities," the Kremlin noted. Vladimir Zelensky was inaugurated as Ukrainian President on Monday, May 20. On the same day, Prime Minister Vladimir Groysman announced his resignation, which means the Cabinet of Ministers will resign. On Tuesday, Zelensky signed a decree to dissolve the parliament and scheduled the snap parliamentary election for July 21.
MOSCOW, May 15 -- Talks between US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Russian President Vladimir Putin demonstrate the serious approach of both Washington and Moscow to maintaining bilateral dialogue, chairman of the Valdai Discussion Club Andrey Bystritsky said Wednesday.
"These meetings and Pompeo's visit to Sochi itself represent an important signal. From the political point of view, the significance of this meeting is that it actually took place. Even if they reached some practical agreements, they will try to not disclose them publicly because those agreements will gradually show in what the parties in this discussion will do in the future," Bustritsky said. "In this case, Russia and the US demonstrated that are having a serious meeting, that the US secretary of state is ready to go to Sochi and spend a lot of time there in talks. Both sides demonstrate readiness to negotiate," he added. The talks also confirmed US President Donald Trump's intention to fulfill the promises he made during the election campaign, the expert noted. "In some sense, Trump is fulfilling his plans which he talked about before becoming president - he thinks that it is better to negotiate and reach agreements with Russians, as opposed to not talking and not reaching any agreements," the expert said.
Bystritsky said that one of the most important signals after Putin-Pompeo talks was the fact that the sides did not discuss the situation in Ukraine. "I would interpret this statement in the following manner: the basis formula is not being reconsidered. The Minsk Agreements remain in force. What is there to discuss? The agreements need to be implemented. Whether Ukraine is ready to fulfill them is another story," he explained. Among the topics on the international agenda discussed at the meeting, the most important issue is the situation around the Iranian nuclear deal, Bystritsky said. "Other issues, such as Venezuela and Syria, are important as well but also routine. It is clear that those are old conflicts, and it will be hard to overcome them completely. It is not clear how to resolve these problems," he concluded.
WASHINGTON, May 10 -- President of the United States Donald Trump has ordered to extend for one more year a set of unilateral sanctions against Syria, the White House said in a statement.
"The regime’s brutal war on the Syrian people, who have been calling for freedom and a representative government, not only endangers the Syrian people themselves, but also generates instability throughout the region," the statement quoted President Trump as saying. "The Syrian regime’s actions and policies, including pursuing and using chemical weapons, supporting terrorist organizations, and obstructing the Lebanese government’s ability to function effectively continue to foster the rise of extremism and sectarianism and pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States," Trump stated in his message to the Congress.
"For these reasons, I have determined that it is necessary to continue in effect the national emergency declared with respect to this threat and to maintain in force the sanctions to address this national emergency," the US president said. The United States had been gradually introducing various restrictive measures in regard to Damascus between 2004 and 2012. The restrictions at the issue stipulate in particular the freeze of assets of individuals and companies under the US jurisdiction, ban exports of certain categories of American goods and services. "… the United States condemns the [Syrian President Bashar] Assad regime’s use of brutal violence and human rights abuses and calls on the Assad regime to stop its violent war, uphold existing ceasefires, enable the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and negotiate a political transition in Syria that will forge a credible path to a future of greater freedom, democracy, opportunity, and justice," Trump stated. "The United States will consider changes in the composition, policies, and actions of the Government of Syria in determining whether to continue or terminate this national emergency in the future," the US president added.
BEIRUT, April 26 -- The U.S.-backed assault to drive Islamic State from its Syrian capital Raqqa in 2017 killed more than 1,600 civilians, 10 times the toll the coalition itself has acknowledged, Amnesty International and the monitoring group Airwars reported.
Amnesty and Airwars, a London-based group set up in 2014 to monitor the impact of the U.S.-led campaign against Islamic State, spent 18 months researching civilian deaths including two months on the ground in Raqqa, they said. “Our conclusive finding after all this is that the U.S.-led coalition’s military offensive (US, UK and French forces) directly caused more than 1,600 civilian deaths in Raqqa,” they said. They said the cases they had documented probably amounted to violations of international humanitarian law and called for coalition members to create a fund to compensate victims and their families. The coalition has previously said it takes great care to avoid civilian casualties and that it investigates accusations that it has done so.
Islamic State seized Raqqa in early 2014 during its lightning advance through Syria and Iraq in which it built a self-proclaimed caliphate characterized by summary executions of opponents. Its mass killing and enslavement of minorities was described as genocide by the United Nations. The group, which controlled a third of both Syria and Iraq in 2014, has since been driven from all the territory it controlled by military campaigns waged by an array of enemies including the Syrian and Iraqi governments, the United States, its European allies and their rivals Russia and Iran. It was defeated by U.S.-backed fighters in its last Syrian stronghold this year. Despite no longer controlling territory, it is still seen as a threat to launch attacks around the world. An international coalition led by Washington has given military support to both the Iraqi government and a Syrian militia, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The SDF captured Raqqa in October 2017 after a five month offensive backed by U.S.-led air strikes and special forces. Amnesty said last year that there was evidence coalition air and artillery strikes in Raqqa had broken international law by endangering the lives of civilians, but until now had not given an estimate of the death toll during the battle. Reuters reporters in Raqqa during and after the campaign said that bombardment had caused massive destruction in the city, laying waste to entire districts.
BERLIN, April 12 -- Germans are significantly more likely to be victims of a crime committed by an immigrant than vice versa.
About every tenth victim to whom a suspect was identified has been assigned to the perpetrator category “immigrant”. “In the area of murder, manslaughter, killing on request, 230 Germans fell victim to a criminal offense,” it says in the situation report.
Deutsche are significantly more likely victims of a crime that was committed by an immigrant, than vice versa. This emerges from the simultaneously published with the police crime statistics (PKS) situation picture “crime in the context of immigration” of the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA). The case presented by the Federal Criminal Police Office show a gloomy picture: “In the area of murder, manslaughter, killing on request, 230 Germans fell victim to a criminal offense in which at least one suspected immigrant was involved,” it says in the situation report. This was an increase of 105 percent compared to 2017 (112). “Of these, 102 people were victims of a finished act,” it says.
In total, among the 101,956 victims of crime involving suspected immigrants, 46,336 were Germans; that was 19 percent more than in 2017. It is also noteworthy that last year only 18% of cases in which asylum seekers and refugees were registered as victims of a crime in 2018 – four-fifths are assaulted – one German was identified as suspect (8455 out of 47,042 cases) , In 2017 it was 15 percent.
This could indicate that those political and public representatives who perceive refugees as being threatened by xenophobes have a narrowed view. With all the weaknesses of the PKS, it becomes clear on the basis of these figures that people seeking protection are mainly attacked by other foreigners.”