The Syrian Coalition reiterated calls on the United Nations to establish stable and safe areas for Syrian refugees in Lebanon in accordance with the international laws and resolutions that ensure the right for refugees to be protected.
Member of the Syrian Coalition’s political committee Badr Jamous said that the repeated attacks on places housing Syrian refugees in Lebanon is unacceptable.
The Lebanese Ministry of Defense asked the Syrian refugees in the area of Rayak in the Beqaa Valley to evacuate the camps in the area for security reasons linked to the Rayak airbase. The municipality of Zahle also asked about 7,000 refugees to leave the area without providing clear reasons.
Jamous added that the attacks against Syrian refugees in Lebanon violates international law, international humanitarian law, and human rights conventions. He slammed the use of the issue of refugees in Lebanon by certain groups to serve their own political interests.
"The role of the United Nations does not stop at this point as it should push the political process forward to achieve a political solution in line with the Geneva Communiqué of 2012 and the UN Security Council resolution 2254. Reaching a permanent solution is the only way to restore stability in Syria and encourage Syrians to return to their homes,” he added. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
President of the Syrian Coalition Anas Abdah and members of the Coalition’s political committee held two separate teleconferences with members of the local councils in the districts of Qaboun and Barza in Damascus as well as with health officials in eastern Ghouta on Saturday.
Abdah stressed that the war crimes being committed by the Assad regime and its allies in Damascus and its countryside must not go unpunished, adding that Assad's departure has been agreed among the international community.
Nizar, a doctor working in Hayat Hospital in Qaboun, said that the Assad regime and its allies are deliberately targeting hospitals in the rebel-held district. He added that medical facilities in the district are no longer able to meet the medical needs of the local residents.
The Assad regime and Russian air forces have dramatically intensified aerial bombardment on the neighborhoods of Qaboun and Barzah in eastern Damascus as well as on the town of Douma in eastern for over two months. The intensified bombing campaign and crippling siege by regime forces are clearly aimed at forcing the local population in these areas to leave their homes and bring about a demographic change in Damascus and its suburbs.
Deputy Head of the Syrian interim government Akram Tomah gave an overview of the situation in the eastern Ghouta, pointing out that the bombing is targeting residential neighborhoods in particular to force the local population to leave their homes.
Doctor Majid Khanshour of the Unified Medical Office in Eastern Ghouta said that the area is on the verge of a humanitarian disaster because of the severe shortages of medical supplies and equipment. He pointed out that that siege has led to the reemergence of some diseases in the area, which could further aggravate the humanitarian situation for tens of thousands of civilians trapped in the area. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
In blatant violation of the cease-fire agreement in place since December 29, 2016, the Assad regime and Russian forces continue with their systematic, deliberate targeting of hospitals and medical centers in the liberated areas across Syria.
In a press release issued on Thursday, the Syrian Coalition said that the Russian air force on Thursday bombed three hospitals in rural Idlib and Rural Damascus with vacuum bombs on Thursday, killing and injuring members of the medical staff as well as patients and civilians.
The attacks brought the number of bombed hospitals in April to 11. “According to preliminary information, Russian jets in the early morning hours of Thursday bombed two hospitals in the towns of Maarzeita and Aldair Alsharqi in rural Idlib, putting them out of service. The Russian jets also struck the only remaining field hospital in the town of Jisreen in Rural Damascus on Thursday,” the Coalition said.
The Coalition added: “Hospitals and medical facilities have been a constant target for the Assad regime and the Russian occupation forces which significantly intensified their attacks in April.”
“The deliberate, systematic targeting of medical facilities is clearly aimed at killing any semblance of life in the liberated areas. In addition to constituting war crimes and crimes against humanity, these attacks blatantly violates the ceasefire agreement and UN Security Council resolutions 2268 and 2254.”
The Coalition also said that “health and ambulance workers in Idlib province are working in extraordinarily difficult conditions, setting a shining example to the rest of us in dedication and sacrifice. They continue their work despite being fully aware that the world has abandoned them to their fate.”
The Coalition held both the Assad regime and the Russian and Iranian occupation forces fully responsible for the continuous targeting of hospitals and medical facilities in Syria. It also reminded the international community and humanitarian and legal organizations of their responsibility to put an end to these violations and crimes. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Secretary of the Syrian Coalition’s political committee Riyad al-Hassan called on the United Nations to find practical solutions to the many problems facing millions of Syrians regarding travel documents. He said that the Assad regime uses travel documents to extort money from the Syrian people.
The United Nations needs to urge member states to accept travel documents that the Syrian people have even when the documents have expired, Hasan said. He called upon the UN to impose strict punitive measures should the Assad regime continue to blackmail the Syrian people in the diaspora.
The Syrian consulates in Istanbul and Amman on Monday said that they were stopping the renewal of passports and travel documents for Syrian citizens, without giving a reason. Syrian refugees in these two countries must apply for new passports in return for the extortionate fee of 800 USD.
Hasan pointed out that the Assad regime aims through this decision to further humiliate the Syrian people and to extort money to fund its war machine against the Syrian people. The money the Assad regime extorts through the issuance of travel documents is an important source of funding for its war effort.
Hasan said that the United Nations bears responsibility for the regime’s actions as it continues to acknowledge the legitimacy of the regime. He stressed that the regime’s policy violates international law and international humanitarian law which ensure the right to free movement. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)
The Syrian Coalition’s legal committee said that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has accepted a criminal lawsuit filed by the Coalition against the Assad regime for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Head of the legal committee Haitham Maleh said that the committee submitted the criminal suit to the ICC’s registration office and the prosecutor's office against Bashar al-Assad and his brother Maher as well as over 120 high-ranking officials in Assad’s army and security apparatus on late March.
Maleh said the ICC prosecutor's office initially accepted the suit, adding that the committee is waiting for the suit to be formally accepted so that the ICC begins to call and investigate defendants.
Accepting the suit is a very important step to bring perpetrators of crimes in Syria to justice, Maleh said. He called upon the ICC to seriously consider the suit as this will help the international community to find a just solution in Syria.
Maleh noted that the Assad regime and leaders and heads of his army and security apparatus committed the most horrible war crimes against the Syrian people which gave a free rein to terrorist groups such as the Hezbollah militia, the Iranian-backed militias, Al-Qaeda, and ISIS. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Ministry of Health in the Syrian Interim Government sent a letter to the UN Secretary-General António Guterres highlighting the systematic bombing of hospitals and medical facilities by the Assad regime and Russia forces. The last few days saw intensified aerial attacks on medical centers in the rebel-held areas, resulting in the death of many members of the medical staff and destruction of hospitals.
The ministry of health said that regime forces and their allies targeted no fewer than 70 medical centers in the rebel-held areas between 2011 and 2015. The attacks have killed at least 497 doctors, nurses, and paramedics. According to figures compiled by the ministry, 2016 saw a dramatic increase in such attacks which targeted at least 286 health facilities and killed around 151 medical personnel.
The Assad regime and Russian air forces have bombed 32 medical centers since the beginning of 2017. Airstrikes using vacuum bombs and cluster munitions targeted the main hospital in the town of Kafar Takharim in rural Idlib at dawn on Tuesday.
The ministry stressed that the medical facilities targeted by the attacks were all located away from rebel fighters’ military headquarters and battle frontlines, adding that they did not have any military presence. It also stressed these facilities provided medical services to all residents in the liberated areas regardless of religion, sect, or ethnicity. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)
An official in the Syrian Coalition said that the departure of Bashar al-Assad and his family has been internationally agreed, calling on all Syrians to work together to build a new Syria.
Member of the Syrian Coalition and former vice-president Hisham Marwa said that a radical change has taken place in the Syrian file during the past few days. Marwa noted that international actors, led by the United States, have clearly defined its final position of Bashar al-Assad and his family in view of the war crimes they continue to commit against the Syrian people.
Marwa pointed out that the biggest challenge facing revolutionary and opposition forces is "to develop a clear political program to meet the challenges of the transitional period, the national reconciliation, and transitional justice."
Russia can no longer cover the ongoing crimes of the Assad regime against the Syrian people, Marwa added. He stressed that Moscow should stop supporting Assad and stop covering its crimes "if it wants to be part of the political process."
Marwa went on to say that Russia's support for a regime involved in war crimes against its people amounts to supporting and strengthening terrorism, warning that Russia’s continued support for Assad will cost Moscow a heavy price and will isolate it internationally. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)
President of the Syrian opposition Anas Abdah met with President of the Syrian-Turkmen Council Emin Bozoğlan and an accompanying delegation at the headquarters of the Syrian Coalition in Istanbul on Sunday.
The two sides discussed activating the role of the Syrian-Turkmen Council within the institutions of the Coalition and on the national level. They also stressed the important role the Council can play to strengthen the relationship between the Syrian revolution and the Turkish society through the development of social relations with the Turkish people who have shown considerable sympathy towards the Syrian people since the beginning of the revolution.
Conferees stressed that the Council can play an important role in acting as a bridge between the Syrian political forces and their Turkish counterparts.
The two sides also reviewed a joint action plan for the coming period whose results they believe will serve the interests of the Syrian people and the Syrian revolution. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Bombardment by regime forces and the Iranian-backed foreign militias on rebel-held areas in Damascus and its suburbs continues unabated. The bombing, from the air by warplanes, rockets, and heavy artillery, has been ongoing for over a month now and is part of an attempt to take over the liberated areas.
Activists in Damascus said that dozens of airstrikes have been targeting the districts of Qaboun, Tishreen, and Barzah in eastern Damascus on a daily basis for the 40th consecutive day.
The Assad regime and Russian jets on Friday raided towns and villages in eastern Ghouta, hitting residential neighborhoods and civilian facilities. The area also came under intense bombardment by heavy artillery and rockets.
The Unified Medical Office in Eastern Ghouta said that two people were killed in what they believed were Assad regime airstrikes on the town of Douma. The airstrikes also left dozens of people injured, including women and children and caused damage to residential buildings.
Activists in eastern Ghouta said that the Assad regime and Russian jets bombed the towns of Housh Salhiya, Nishabiya, and Otaya in Almarj area, causing civilian casualties. Regime forces also shelled the towns of Arbin, Kafarbatna, Jisreen, Otoya, and Housh Salhiya with heavy artillery. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Assad regime and Russian air forces have recently intensified attacks on rebel-held areas in Idlib and Hama provinces using internationally banned weapons, such as the white phosphorous, cluster bombs, and napalm. The most violent airstrikes are targeting northern rural Hama and the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rural Idlib.
According to Hama Media Center, more than 200 rockets and 70 air strikes have hit northern rural Hama over the past few hours, especially the towns of Taybet Alimam, Halfaya, and Kafarzeita.
The intensification of the bombing campaign on Idlib and Hama provinces followed a chemical attack regime forces carried out in the town of Khan Sheikhoun on April 4. Since then, the Assad regime and Russian jets have carried out at least 3,000 airstrikes on the two provinces, mostly using the white phosphorous and vacuum bombs in an unprecedented escalation on the area.
The human rights department of the Syrian Coalition’s legal committee said that these attacks and massacres by the Assad regime forces and their allied foreign militias amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity under Articles 6 and 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court adopted on July 17, 1998.
The department called on the international community, especially the UN Security Council to form a special commission of inquiry to investigate these crimes and impose a no-fly zone as well as safe zones to protect civilians in the liberated areas.
The department also called on human rights organizations and civil society groups around the world to exercise pressure on their governments to act more effectively to end the suffering of the Syrian people and refer perpetrators of these crimes to international courts to receive the punishment they deserve. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)