Secretary of the Syrian Coalition’s political committee Yahya Maktabi said that the international community risks undermining the principles of democracy, dignity and human rights in Syria, pointing to attempts to rehabilitate the Assad regime.
"We are trying to clarify the issue of the Syrian people, which requires the unification of the efforts of everyone. We are also seeking to restore confidence between us and the Syrian people," Maktabi told Elaph newspaper. "This will hopefully be achieved through close cooperation between members of the Coalition and civil society organizations and organizations working on the ground in Syria.”
Maktabi pointed to an “ambitious project” to reform the Syrian Coalition at the level of organization and performance, noting that the project was adopted by president of the Coalition, Riad Seif and the majority in the Coalition members. At the organizational level, the Coalition will seek to incorporate more national figures and improve the representation of the FSA groups in the Coalition.
The Coalition will discuss the situation of the Syrian Interim Government (SIG) working in the liberated areas and the difficulties and challenges it faces, Maktabi said. He added that one of the Coalition’s priorities is to encourage friendly and sisterly countries to support SIG and enable it carry out its tasks.
Maktabi concluded his remarks by stressing that in order not to lose credibility and to avoid political posturing within the context of the Geneva talks, the Coalition will not set unrealistic high expectations. Maktabi reiterated that the Coalition’s primary mission remains to defend the Syrian people and the Syrian revolution and represent them at the political level and to spare no effort to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Members of the delegation of the opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC) to the seventh round of the Geneva talks discussed the latest political and military developments in eastern Qalamoun with representatives of civil and military groups in the area on Wednesday.
The representatives said that eastern Qalamoun has been subjected to crippling siege by the ISIS extremist group and the Assad regime.
The Assad regime has recently launched a large-scale offensive on civilian areas and FSA positions in eastern Qalamoun in rural Damascus backed by the Russian army. The Assad regime is seeking a repeat of the scenario that took place in other liberated areas across Syria and which ended with mass forced displacement of the local population changing the demographic landscape in those areas.
Following the launch of the offensive in eastern Qalamoun, the Assad regime closed down the only route to the town of Jeroud. Representatives of the residents in the area said that the move is aimed at putting "more pressure on civilians to agree to the settlement that Russia is trying to impose on the local population."
The two sides discussed the ongoing negotiations between the FSA groups in the area on one side and the Assad regime and Russia on the other. The representatives stressed that "their agreeing to negotiate with the regime does not mean surrender and that they will continue to defend their areas.”
The representatives said that Russia couldn’t claim to be a guarantor of any agreement as it continues to support the regime and advance its interests.
Members of the HNC delegation stressed that they raised the situation in both Qalamoun and Arsal before active players in Syria and UN organizations in meetings in Geneva.
"We are exerting every effort so that the cease-fire agreement covers all Syria, not only Dara’a,” said George Sabra, Head of the HNC mission to Geneva.
Sabra added that the Assad regime’s pursuit of negotiations with the Syrian people to reach the so-called "reconciliation deals" is the result of its failure to achieve any military progress on the ground and the revival of political process by major players in Syria. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The delegation of the opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC) to the 7th round of Geneva talks discussed the latest developments on the ground in Dara’a province with the local council in Dara’a in a teleconference on Tuesday.
"We should not be derailed from our primary goals, namely to ensure civilians are protected and comprehensive ceasefire is put in place,” said Nasr Hariri, head of the HNC’s delegation to Geneva.
Hariri stressed that the cease-fire must not be reached at the expense of our fundamental principle, which is the overthrow of the murderous regime and the preserving of the integrity of Syrian territory. He vowed that the HNC delegation “will not buckle down or go back and will remain true to the blood of the fallen heroes.”
A member of the local council in Dara’a said that the regime is not committed to the truce, talking of “daily violations of the cease-fire by regime forces.” He stressed that "our main goal to overthrow the murderous regime with all its symbols and security institutions and preserve the integrity of the Syrian territory.”
“We insist that the de-escalation agreement must cover not only Dara’a province, but on all Syrian territory," the member said. He stressed that they will remain "steadfast on the ground."
Members of the council renewed their support for the HNC delegation in the current round of talks in Geneva, adding that they stand by the HNC delegation and their efforts to reach a full political transition through the formation of a transitional governing body with full of executive powers without Bashar al-Assad and his clique.
Members of the HNC praised the steadfastness of the FSA fighters in Dara’a and everywhere across Syria. They pointed to "consensus in the opposition not to accept a pre-transitional phase" that includes officials from the Assad regime. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Free Syrian Army groups operating in the Syrian Desert announced they have shot down an Assad regime jet over the Um Ramim area northwest of Mahratha in the Syrian Desert and damaged a helicopter near Alseen airbase in rural Damascus. The Osoud Sharqiya and Ahmed Abdo Brigades FSA groups previously announced the launch of a counteroffensive dubbed “The Land is Ours” to repel regime attacks on the FSA positions in the Syrian Desert.
The FSA groups on Tuesday said they have recaptured the Umm Ramim area from regime forces, adding that they have destroyed two tanks and a bulldozer belonging to regime forces. At least 35 pro-regime militants have been killed in the FSA counteroffensive in Syrian Desert, the FSA groups said.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Coalition stressed that areas currently being targeted by the Assad regime and the Russian air force in the Syrian Desert are completely under the control of the Free Syrian Army.
In a press release issued on Monday, the Coalition said the FSA groups liberated these areas from the ISIS extremist group organization following offensives launched in early 2017 across eastern rural Swaidaa and the Syrian Desert, including Tal Makhoul hill and the “Scientific Research Platoon.”
The Coalition condemned any attacks on or attempts to advance in those areas under the pretext of fighting ISIS as it warned brokers of the agreement of the dire consequences of using the agreement to justify attacks on the FSA groups.
The Coalition stressed the need to force the Assad regime to stop its attacks and withdraw its forces immediately from the areas they have advanced onto since the agreement went into force on Sunday, July 9.
The Assad regime forces, backed by Russia aerial cover, are trying to advance in the southern Syrian Desert, claiming the area is not covered by the ceasefire agreement brokered by the United States and Russia. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Syrian Coalition took a decision to form two commissions, one managing the affairs in the besieged areas and the forcibly displaced persons, and the other addressing issues to do with detainees and missing persons. The decision was made during the ordinary 34th meeting of the Coalition’s General Assembly which concluded on Saturday.
Vice-president of the Syrian Coalition Abdul Rahman Mustafa said that the United Nations has so far failed to force the Assad regime and its backers to lift the blockades on the besieged areas in line with UN Security Council resolution 2254. He added that the Assad regime continues with “the mass forced displacement as it has recently issued threats to the residents of eastern Qalamoun to evacuate their homes or their lives will be threatened.”
Mustafa pointed out that members of the General Assembly proposed the formation of a national commission for the affairs of the besieged areas and displaced people and one for the affairs of detainees and missing persons. He noted that the move will enable the Coalition to play a greater role in addressing these two important issues.
Member of the Coalition’s political committee Yasser Farhan said that the issue of detainees will receive greater attention as the move “aims to put pressure on the Assad regime to stop the detention, murdering and burning of the bodies of activists in the dungeons of the security forces away from the eyes of local and international human rights organizations."
Farhan stressed that the Assad regime and those responsible for arrests and killings will not be able to escape punishment for their crimes; crimes that are condemned under international law and international humanitarian law. Farhan added that accountability for these crimes will be a priority in the full political transition that meets the aspirations of the Syrian people.
Members of the General Assembly also discussed the latest political and field developments in Syria and violations against Syrian refugees in the town of Arsal in Lebanon. They strongly condemned the killing of 19 refugees by units of the Lebanese Army and the Hezbollah militias. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Syrian Coalition called on the international community and human rights organizations to exercise pressure on the Assad regime to allow international monitors into its prisons. The Coalition said detainees are being subjected to widespread torture and summary executions in Assad’s prisons.
Member of the Coalition’s legal committee Hisham Marwa said that the Assad regime has not abided by international resolutions on Syria, especially those regarding the release of detainees. According to estimates by human rights organizations, more than 250,000 people are currently detained in the prisons of the Assad regime.
Marwa pointed out that war crimes are taking place against detainees in the prisons of the Assad regime, especially the Sednaya Prison near Damascus. Marwa said that detainees are subjected to unimaginable torture, calling on the international community to take legal action to stop these unacceptable crimes.
Amnesty International launched a campaign under the title "End the Terror in Syria Prisons" calling on the international community and human rights organizations to ramp up pressure the Assad regime to allow independent monitors to enter the prisons which the watchdog group described as "brutal" and to allow them to conduct an independent investigation.
Marwa went on to say that human rights violations and crimes in the prisons of the regime have long been exposed, stressing that torture and extrajudicial killings are all crimes that must be addressed. Marwa said the Coalition regularly sends detailed reports to international human rights organizations, the UN Commission of Inquiry, and the International Committee of the Red Cross on the crimes and violations carried out by the Assad regime against detainees.
Member of the Coalition’s political committee Oqab Yahya said that the issue of detainees has not yet to attract full attention of the international community, which encouraged the Assad regime to ignore all international resolutions involving the issue of detainees.
Yahya stressed that the Coalition will continue to press for the enforcement of international resolutions and accountability for war crimes as well as the disclosure of the fate of detainees in the prisons of the regime and their immediate release. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)
Secretary-General of the Syrian Coalition Nazir Hakim met with Director of the Syrian Civil Defense Raed Saleh at the headquarters of the Coalition in Istanbul on Thursday.
The meeting discussed a mechanism for communication and coordination to facilitate the work of the civil defense corps, known as the "White Helmets." It also discussed ways to make use of the outcome of the conference held on 28 June in Germany on the elimination of chemical and biological weapons. Syrian civilians have suffered a lot as a result of the Assad regime’s repeated use of these weapons.
Hakim called for the formation of military, medical, political, and humanitarian teams to aid the civil defense and medical teams in carrying out their duties, provide services to the civilian population and save lives during attacks by the Assad regime and its allies.
Hakim stressed the need for coordination between the White Helmets and the Coalition to better serve the civilian population and alleviate their suffering.
Moreover, Hakim stressed the need to gather evidence on the Assad regime’s use of these prohibited weapons to be presented during the upcoming "NCT USA 2017” conference which will be held in Washington on 19-21 September. He also suggested the submission of a joint letter between the Coalition and the White Helmets on the crimes being committed by the Assad regime and its supporters against civilians in Syria and the need to protect civilians and consolidate the ceasefire agreement. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Secretary of the Syrian Coalition’s political committee Yahya Maktabi said that Iran is complicit the war crimes being committed by the Assad regime in Syria and cannot be a guarantor of any agreement on Syria.
"How can we accept Iran as a guarantor state after it proved itself a state hostile to the Syrian people?" Maktabi said. He pointed out that Iran has brought around 55,000 mercenaries who are taking part in the killing of the Syrian people.
Maktabi pointed to Iran’s major role in supporting the Assad regime and taking part in the massacres being committed against the Syrian people for more than six years. He pointed out that the Iranian regime plays a major role in fueling the tensions throughout the region, especially in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen.
With regard to the Astana meetings, Maktabi said that the aim is to consolidate the ceasefire as well as ensure that the humanitarian articles of the international resolutions on Syria are implemented and humanitarian aid to the besieged areas is delivered.
While the Astana meetings have specific tasks, a political solution must be achieved solely through the Geneva process, Maktabi added. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Rudaw Media Network)
Officials in the Syrian Coalition said that the Assad regime has killed hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians using indiscriminate, chemical, and biological weapons. They stressed that Bashar Assad and those responsible for the use of those weapons should be held to account.
Former Secretary-General of the Syrian Coalition Abdul Ilah Fahd said that there has lately been an international push to get rid of these weapons and ensure they are not used again against civilians, especially in Syria.
Last week, Fahd, the Coalition’s Ambassador to Qatar Nizar Haraki, and Doctor Hussam Nahas participated in a conference on the use of these weapons held in Germany under the title “Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Improvised Explosive Devices - Explosive Ordnance Disposal Warfare in Syria” on the sidelines of the International Conference on the Elimination of Conventional Weapons.
Fahd said that the biggest challenge to get rid of these weapons is “the inaction of the international community” towards the use of these weapons, most especially in Syria. He pointed out that the decision to provide Syria with equipment for the safe handling of these weapons is an “unethical and was politically motivated and lead to an increase in casualties and deaths.”
Fahd indicated that two companies participating in the conference "have shown readiness to work with the Syrian Coalition and the Syrian Interim Government (SIG)" to provide the civil defense and medical personnel operating in Syria with anti-pollution agents and auto-injectors in the form of pens against possible chemical weapons attacks by the Assad regime.
The Coalition’s Ambassador to Qatar Nizar Haraki stressed that the international community must set accountability for the use of these weapons as a top priority, adding that the repeated use of these weapons by the Assad regime poses a serious threat to international peace and security.
Haraki said the Assad regime’s use of sarin in the April 4 attack on the town of Khan Sheikoun represented blatant defiance to the international community, urging the UN Security Council and the United Nations to take urgent action to protect civilians and ensure that such attacks are not repeated.
France and Britain last Friday urged members of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to act firmly on the findings of the organization's latest report that confirmed that sarin was used in the April 4 attack on the town of Khan Sheikoun.
France said that the report by the world's chemical weapons watchdog was "unequivocal” and that the conclusions of the report were “indisputable."
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he has "absolutely no doubt the finger points at the Assad regime." (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Syrian Coalition condemned in the strongest terms the horrific crimes in Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon. It held the Lebanese authorities responsible as it called for an urgent investigation into the circumstances of the crimes against the Syrian refugees so that perpetrators are held to account.
Refugee camps in Lebanon have been violently stormed and many young men have been detained and tortured. Up to 19 refugees have been killed during the storming and the ravaging carried out by the Hezbollah militias, units of the Lebanese army, and the Hezbollah-dominated security forces.
Ten more refugees were reportedly killed under torture after they have been detained. Over 350 refugees, mostly from the refugee camps in the Arsal area, have been detained.
In a press release issued on Wednesday, the Coalition said that credible reports indicated that the Lebanese military was trying to cover up these crimes by preventing the media from entering the area and hindering the work of local and international human rights organizations in order to prevent the documentation of the crimes that occurred during the storming of the camps.
The Lebanese military is also preventing lawyers from communicating with detainees held in prisons inside military barracks. Moreover, the Lebanese army has given false accounts of the incidents to mislead public opinion and the media, and it forced the families of the victims to bury the bodies of their loved ones without completing the legal procedures. Human rights groups were also prevented from documenting the cases with the aim of concealing the real causes of the deaths, the Coalition added.
The Coalition stressed that lawyers should be allowed to carry out their duties, communicate with all the detainees, and verify the conditions of their detention. Bodies of the victims must be handed over to their families unconditionally and in accordance with standard legal proceedings, the Coalition went on.
The Coalition called upon the United Nations, the UN Commission on Human Rights, and all relevant international organizations to take urgent action and assume their responsibilities to stop these violations and crimes and to hold those responsible accountable.
The Coalition rejected any attempts to justify violations and crimes against Syrian refugees under the pretext of "maintaining security" or eliminating terrorist threats in Lebanon and in the Syrian refugee camps in the Arsal area. Furthermore, the Coalition underscored the need to ensure the safety and rights of Syrian refugees in line with international law and the Convention for the Protection of Refugees, especially with regards to the provision of legal protection and the right to litigation before the courts.
The Coalition emphasized that the detention, intimidation, and killing of Syrian refugees under torture cannot be consistent with claims on the part of Lebanon of pursuing a “self-distancing" policy. It noted that such claims are unfounded so long as the Hezbollah terrorist militias are allowed to continue with the killing of children and women in Syria and Lebanon and supporting the murderous Assad regime and its mass forced displacement of the Syrian people. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)