The Assad regime continues with its mass forced displacement operations in the Damascus outskirts backed by Iranian sectarian militias.
Activists said that thousands of civilians on Tuesday were forced to leave the neighborhoods of Barzah, Qaboun and Tishren in northeastern Damascus and the Waer district in Homs heading towards Idlib province in one of the largest demographic change campaigns in modern history.
Residents of these areas confirmed that the Assad regime forced the evacuation of these areas which have been subjected to years-long siege contrary to the regime’s claims that the locals willfully chose to leave.
At a teleconference with members of the Coalition’s presidential and political bodies, activists and FSA commanders said that regime forces and the Iranian-backed militias committed systematic crimes against residents of these areas to force them out of their homes.
Activists added that the evacuations were supervised by Russian officers, criticizing the silence of the United Nations on these operations which are condemned under international law and international humanitarian law.
President of the Syrian Coalition Riad Saif earlier told ambassadors of friendly countries that the continued mass displacement operations constitute war crimes, calling for holding accountable those responsible for these operations. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Syrian Coalition condemned the crimes being committed by the ISIS extremist group against Syrian civilians in rural Hama. It emphasized that the Assad regime and its allied Iranian militias are fully responsible for such crimes as well as for exposing the country to foreign occupation, terrorism, and destruction.
In a press release issued on Monday, the Coalition said that two days after ISIS committed a massacre against civilians in the village of Aqarib Alsafi in eastern rural Hama, militants of the extremist group carried out another massacre claiming the lives of many civilians when they shelled the nearby town of Salamiya with rockets on Monday.
The continued shelling on Salamiya has reportedly caused many civilians to flee their homes and created chaos and panic among civilians. Intimidation and rumors are in addition being spread by regime forces stationed in the area. Hospitals in the town have issued an urgent public appeal for blood donations in the face of a serious shortage and a deteriorating situation.
The Coalition renewed its call for an international coalition of the civilized world to confront the murderous regime and its supporters and to fight terrorism in all its forms in Syria. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
President of the Syrian Coalition Riyad Seif welcomed the Riyadh declaration issued at the end of the Arab-Islamic-US summit in the Saudi capital. He stressed the need to combat extremist groups, chiefly among them are ISIS, Hezbollah, and Al-Qaeda.
Seif said that Iran is responsible for the emergence of terrorist organizations in the region as it supports the Assad regime criminal and sectarian militias in Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen.
Tehran’s actions in Syria led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians and the displacement of millions more, Seif said. He called on all countries around the world to stand up to Iran and isolate it as it continues to support terrorism.
Seif expressed hope that the outcome of the summit will be translated into action through standing up to the Iranian militias and forcing them to leave Syria and all countries of the region. “Dialogue and rapprochement, the approach adopted by former President Barack Obama, no longer works with Iran, he added, stressing Iran instead must be dealt with the utmost firmness.”
Seif described US President Donald Trump’s visit to the region “as historic as it rearranges the priorities of the region and restore stability."
The Free Syrian Army is a true partner of all forces wishing to fight terrorism, Seif said. He added that Syria’s mainstream rebels are fighting Al-Qaeda, ISIS, the Assad regime and the Iranian-backed sectarian militias. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Nasr Hariri, head of the opposition’s High Negotiation’s Committee (HNC) to Geneva talks, on Friday described as dreaming those who think fighting terrorism is possible while the Assad regime is still in power.
As the sixth round of talks in Geneva concluded on Friday, Hariri called for achieving a political transition under the umbrella of the United Nations and for holding the Iranian regime accountable for its blatant intervention in Syria.
Hariri told reporters that efforts to combat terrorism and ending the Iranian intervention in Syria are in the interest of the Syrian people. He described Iran as a “rogue state” whose militias are carrying out massacres against the Syrian people.
Hariri pointed out that the HNC delegation submitted a memorandum to the UN envoy Staffan de Mistura on the “sabotaging role of Iran in Syria and the region.” He stressed that Iran’s intervention in Syria is illegal, and that Iran has deployed tens of thousands of mercenaries and terrorists from Lebanon and Iraq as well as sectarian militias to commit war crimes in Syria.
"Iran is committing many violations and massacres against our people. These crimes are mainly targeting civilians as a part of an expansionist, sectarian, nationalistic project to increase its influence not only in Syria but also in the entire region. Iran also uses a sectarian rhetoric that incites violence and sectarianism," Hariri said.
Hariri explained that the HNC delegation discussed the issue of the establishment of a transitional governing body in some detail with the UN envoy. On the other side, the Assad regime’s delegation refused to discuss anything or show they were willing to engage in the political process.
“The Assad regime does not have the slightest regard for Syrian mothers and children,” Hariri said. “There is only one thing on the regime’s mind, which is to wipe out all Syria’s provinces and components from the map. For the regime, it is not a problem if all the countries of the world come to Syria provided that it clings to power.”
Hariri went on to say that the regime is not serious about reaching a political solution. He revealed information that the Assad regime has built another crematorium at the headquarters of the Air Force Intelligence in Aleppo, noting that ISIS’s continued crimes are being carried out in coordination with the Assad regime. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Member of the Syrian Coalition Abdul Ahad Steifo said that a political solution must be achieved only through the Geneva process, adding that the Astana track must remain committed to its original tasks, namely arrangement and consolidation of cease-fire and tackling humanitarian issues.
Steifo pointed out that negotiations in Geneva are based on international resolutions, which gives any potential outcome international legitimacy.
Steifo, who is also member of the opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC), said that results of the sixth round of talks were not satisfactory as they did not answer questions about the timing of the round and the fact that it was short. These results did not compel the Assad regime to change its policies as it continued to procrastinate and show lack of seriousness.
The proposal by the international envoy to Syria Staffqan de Misura for the consultative mechanism to discuss the constitution was impromptu and unclear and diverted attention away from the political process, Steifo said.
On the Russian role in the negotiations, Stiefo explained that Moscow has gone far in its support for the Assad regime and in its alliance with Iran, pointing out that the Iranian militias played a major role in the spread of terrorism in the region.
Stiefo stressed that Russia must reconsider its alliances and policies, noting that Moscow may be benefitting from playing the Syrian card today, but that will not be the case in the future. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
President of the Syrian Coalition Riad Seif called on the United Sates to exert pressure on Russia to push the negotiating process in Geneva forward to reach a political solution in accordance with international resolutions.
Seif made his remarks during a meeting with the US envoy to Syria Michael Ratney on Friday in Geneva. The meeting was also attended by members of the Coalition’s committee Hadi Bahra and Hawas Khalil.
Seif called on the US government to step up support for the Syrian Interim Government (SIG) and the projects it implements in the liberated areas to provide services to the population and improve their living conditions.
Seif gave an overview of the presidential plan for the next phase of the revolution and the plans set out to reform the Coalition so that it improve its performance and play a greater role in defending the Syrian revolution and the Syrian people's right to freedom and dignity.
The meeting stressed the role played by the Kurdish National Council in Syria and its representation in the Geneva process under the agreement signed with the Syrian Coalition. Both sides agreed that any political solution must be based on national partnership and ensure the unity of Syria and its people.
For his part, Ratney congratulated the new presidential body as he praised the Coalition’s commitment to the political process and reclaiming the Syrian people’s rights and dignity. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)
President of the Syrian Coalition Riad Seif said that the Syrian opposition will not accept any role for Bashar Al-Assad neither in the transitional period nor in the future of Syria. He stressed that achieving a political transition should be on top of the agenda of the current round of talks in Geneva as he considered transition to be key to restoring security and stability in Syria.
Seif made his remarks at a meeting with the UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura at the UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland on Thursday. The meeting was also attended by members of the Coalition’s political committee Hadi Bahra and Hawas Khalil.
Seif emphasized that the crimes by the Assad regime must be condemned by everyone, adding that the United Nations must stand up to these crimes. Otherwise, the regime will be encouraged to further ignore international resolutions on Syria.
Seif pointed out that mass forced displacement operations are taking place in Syria right under the nose of the entire world, stressing that these operations are illegal. Seif pointed out that the regime is forcing civilians out of their homes instead of implementing international resolutions calling for the introduction of relief aid to besieged towns and cities.
The political process in Geneva is the main path to reaching a political solution in line with the Geneva Communique of 2012 and the UN Security Council resolution 2254, Seif said.
Seif went on to say that Iran cannot proclaim itself a guarantor of any agreement on Syria in view of the war crimes its militias are committing in Syria, referring to the May 4 “de-escalation” agreement signed in Astana.
Seif noted that the Kurdish National Council is represented in the Geneva negotiations through the Coalition and under an agreement signed between the two parties.
The Coalition delegation handed a letter written by rights group and activists to de Mistura calling for the immediate release of all detainees in Syria, instead of prisoner swap deals.
The plight of detainees is one of the most important issues that needs to be resolved, Seif said. He added that any progress in this issue must not be linked to developments in the political process in Geneva. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Secretary-General of the Syrian Coalition Nazir Hakim met with academics and military experts who participated in an international conference on the non-conventional security threats in Asia and the Pacific (NCT). The conference, which was organized by IB Consultancy, an independent defense and security company, began in Seoul, South Korea on Wednesday.
Al-Hakim said the participants expressed their sympathy with the Syrian people and promised to step up support for the Syrian revolution after hearing an overview of the crimes being committed by Bashar al-Assad against the Syrian people with both conventional and non-conventional weapons such as chemical weapons and the white phosphorous.
IB Consultancy said the Syrian opposition should participate in all international meetings to explain its just cause as this will help make the voice of the Syrian people heard in all international forums. Hakim said organizers of the conference pledged to invite the Syrian Coalition future conferences.
Hakim explained that the goal of participation in the conference was to shed light on the revolution of the Syrian people and their cause in international forums, especially in light of the fact that most participants are academics and military experts in the field of fighting terrorism.
During a speech he delivered during the conference on Wednesday, Hakim warned that international inaction towards the Assad regime’s use of chemical and non-conventional weapons against the Syrian people risks creating security threats affecting the entire world.
Hakim called for expediting the OPCW investigation into Assad’s use of chemical weapons and to ensure the elimination of the remaining stockpile of chemical weapons. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Syrian activists on Wednesday held a sit-in outside the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland calling for the release of detainees in the prisons of the Assad regime.
Participants of the sit-in, who included members of the opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC) and relatives of detainees, held placards stressing that they are making their demands on behalf of every Syrian family having their loved ones detained in Assad’s prisons.
Participants called for exercising pressure on the Assad regime to "immediately disclose all the names of detainees in its prisons; reveal their whereabouts and fate; and stop torture and ill-treatment of detainees.”
They also called for access for international humanitarian organizations to prisons and detention centers in Syria to introduce urgent medical and food supplies to detainees and for accesses to international human rights groups in order to check on the situation of detainees.
Participants stressed the importance of abolishing all special courts in Syria, particularly field courts, the court of terrorism, and court martials.
Rights groups have documented the detention of hundreds of thousands of civilians and dissidents by the Assad regime and presented compelling evidence of the death of thousands of detainees under torture in Assad’s prisons.
A forensic military photographer who defected from the Assad regime in 2015 leaked around 55,000 photos of the bodies of around 11,000 detainees bearing signs of systematic, severe torture and emaciation.
The US State Department on Tuesday said it had evidence the Assad regime has built a crematorium in the notorious Sednaya Prison to dispose of bodies of detainees, adding that about 50 bodies are burnt every day inside the facility. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Secretary-General of the Syrian Coalition Nazir Hakim warned that international inaction towards the Assad regime’s use of chemical and non-conventional weapons against the Syrian people risks creating security threats affecting the whole world.
Hakim was speaking during a speech at an international conference on non-traditional threats in Asia and the Pacific held in the Korean capital Seoul with the participation of academics and military experts from several countries specializing in chemical weapons and the fight against terrorism.
Hakim pointed to the failure of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in its mission to fully destroy Assad’s stockpile of chemical weapons. He cited the regime’s use of sarin in the April 4 attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun as evidence of the UN’s failure to force Assad to give up his entire cache of chemical weapons.
The OPCW made two mistakes, Hakim said; the first was failing to ascertain the quantity of chemical weapons the Assad regime has declared, and secondly, the OPCW gave medics and first responders in Syria a false sense of security. He added that medics and first responders, already working under great pressure, have repeatedly been caught unprepared to deal with attacks involving the use of chemical weapons in attacks on rebel-held areas.
Hakim called for expediting the OPCW investigation into Assad’s use of chemical weapons and to ensure the elimination of the remaining stockpile of chemical weapons. He also stressed the need for holding the Assad regime accountable for continuing to produce and use chemical weapons. He called for providing the Syrian people with equipment to protect them against Assad’s use of chemical weapons and equipment to remove and handle mines and IEDs left by the Assad regime’s militias and ISIS militants.
Hakim said that death caused by chemical weapons account for one percent of the total death toll in Syria, while conventional weapons are responsible for 99 percent. Hakim stressed the need to put an end to all attacks on Syrian civilians. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)