President of the Syrian Coalition, Abdurrahman Mustafa, said that any further delay by the international community in forcing Assad to return to the negotiating table and agree to a political solution would have serious repercussions for which the world will pay a double price.
President Mustafa’s remarks came as the Assad regime is continuing to commit the most heinous crimes against civilians in Syria, including through arrest, torture, kidnapping and summary executions in addition to violation of all conventions and agreements. These crimes and violations have claimed the lives of hundreds of people in recent weeks.
"The world will pay a double price for any further delay in reaching a political solution," Mustafa said, calling on countries with leverage on the regime to exert pressure on it to agree to engage in a negotiating process meeting the aspirations of the Syrian people.
President Mustafa pointed out that reaching a political solution in accordance with the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN Security Council Resolution 2254 "will spare the world the repercussions of the survival of the Assad regime."
President Mustafa earlier called on the United Nations to launch a serious investigation into the Assad regime’s violations against detainees and to work seriously to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of detainees in the prisons of the Assad regime.
President Mustafa also called for addressing the tragic situation in Syria and taking a bold decision to refer war crimes in Syria to the International Criminal Court. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Vice-president of the Syrian Coalition, Abdel Basset Hamou, said that facts have shown the extent of coordination between the terrorist militia of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Assad regime. He stressed that these facts refuted claims by this militia that it opposes the Assad regime or about its desire to establish a new rule based on justice and equality.
In special remarks on Friday, Hamou said that "the abuses against senior member of the Kurdish National Council Abdul Rahman Abo in the dungeons of the PYD militia who handed him over to one of the Assad regime’s security branches are yet further evidence of this coordination.”
Abo told Rudaw news agency that the PYD militia handed him over to the Assad regime’s State Security of in Aleppo which later handed him back to the PYD militia.
Upon his release from PYD prisons, Abo pointed out that he remained in solitary confinement in Afrin for two months before he was moved to a slightly larger room where he stayed for nearly four months.
On March 15, Abo was taken blindfolded from Afrin to al-Shahba area in Aleppo where he was handed over to the Assad regime’s State Security in Aleppo where he was detained for 40 days. “After investigations, we were transferred to Manbij and then handed over back to the PYD militia.”
Abo said that the charges against him included "sowing sedition, incitement, and seeking to weaken the nation," which are the same charges used by the Assad regime against its opponents.
The Coalition’s Vice president called on international organizations to put pressure on the PYD militia to disclose the fate of senior member of the Kurdish National Council Behzad Dorsen and the fate of all other detainees in the PYD prisons. He also called for identifying those who were involved in the assassination of Nasreddine Berhak and Meshal Tammou as facts indicated to the existence of coordination between the Assad regime and the PYD militias in these crimes.
Abdul Rahman Abo, a leading member of the Kurdish Democratic Party, a component of the umbrella party the Kurdish National Council, was detained by the PYD militia on July 12, 2017. The PYD militia did not officially disclose his whereabouts until the hour of his release despite the repeated calls by the Council and human rights organizations for the disclosure of his whereabouts. The PYD militia on Friday set on fire the place which was set up to receive Abo in the town of Qamishli. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Syrian Coalition called for an immediate halt to airstrikes by the international anti-ISIS coalition targeting civilian areas in rural Deir Ezzor. It said that the airstrikes killed at least 18 civilians, including 10 children, in the town of Soussa on Thursday.
In a press release issued on Thursday, the Coalition called for the launch of an immediate investigation into these “crimes and all crimes against civilians as well as for holding those responsible to account so as to ensure that such crimes are not repeated.”
Thursday’s massacre came after a series of massacres that have taken place in the province in recent weeks in utter disregard for the lives of civilians, the Coalition said. It added that earlier airstrikes by the international coalition caused a massacre claiming the lives of more than 30 civilians in the town of Hajeen. An airstrike also targeted a prison near the town, killing and injuring inmates inside.
The Coalition went on to say that the information from Deir Ezzor province, which is under internal and external blockade, is coming late amid lack of basic services, including most importantly healthcare. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Wednesday said that “facing Bashar Al-Assad alliance’s use of incendiary weapons cannot be postponed” as it called on the UN to address the flaws in its conventions on the use of these lethal weapons.
The international human rights organization said that in 2018, the Syrian-Russian military alliance used incendiary weapons in at least 30 attacks in six different Syrian provinces.
An investigation by HRW found that most of these attacks were carried out using surface-to-surface missiles, but air-dropped incendiary weapons have also caused damages. For example, a March 16 air strike on Eastern Ghouta killed at least 61 civilians and wounded more than 200, according to the same source.
Human Rights Watch also said it documented 90 additional incendiary attacks in Syria from November 2012 to 2017. However, the total number of attacks aggression is likely to be higher.
In comments it made on Thursday, the Syrian Coalition said that these findings provided yet further evidence of the widespread war crimes committed by the Assad regime and its allies. It called for adding these findings to hundreds of thousands of other items of evidence of the Assad regime's crimes against civilians in Syria.
The Syrian Coalition reiterated the need to activate the international, impartial mechanism to hold accountable perpetrators of war crimes in Syria, stressing that accountability is essential to any sustainable political solution in Syria.
The latest HRW findings coincided with announcement by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) that a core team of 10 experts charged with apportioning blame for poison gas attacks in Syria will be hired soon.
Fernando Arias, the new OPCW head, on Tuesday said that Syria team will be able to look into all attacks previously investigated by the OPCW, dating back to 2014. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Spokesman for the Syrian Coalition Anas al-Abdah said that "the Assad regime has taken effective measures to legitimize the seizure of Syrians’ property through the creation of a special directorate for the implementation of Decree 66, the announcement of new lists of specializations for property owners in the district of Kafarsousa, Al-Mazza, Darya and Al-Qadam, and putting its hand on the property of opponents.
Al-Abada told Al-Hayat newspaper that "the amendments the Assad regime has recently introduced to Decree 66 have fallen short of ensuring protection for the rights of the Syrians nor did they dispel the fears of the opposition." He made it clear that the Assad regime was forced under international and popular pressure to make amendments to Law 10. However, these amendments were limited to extending the timeframe during which owners of property have to assert their rights from six months to one year. The amendments also allowed owners of property to check with the normal judiciary after the end of the work of the committees provided for by Law 10.”
Al-Abbda pointed out that these amendments provided yet further proof of the continued encroachment on the property of millions of Syrians who are persecuted, detained, and forcibly displaced from their cities, villages and homes.
“The one-year period that was contained in the amendment to Law 10 is not different from the previous one-month period as property owners will still not be able to assert their rights to ownership or to delegate others to do so because of the lack of a safe environment and an independent judiciary under the current circumstances."
Al-Abdah went on to say that "our main concern is that under Decree 66, owners of property will become mere stakeholders in unofficial settlements, which risks alienating them from their land and discouraging them from returning to Syria. Meanwhile, Law 10 will allow the Assad regime to repopulate the seized homes and property with its supporters with the aim of serving its goals and that of the Iranians to change demographic landscape in Syria. The recent amendments are aimed at serving these goals instead of dispelling Syrians’ fears.”
Al-Abda said that these amendments are also a source of concern for owners of property who currently live in the regime-held areas and who are not on the Assad regime’s wanted list. “The estimated value of their property does not allow the majority of those people to acquire homes in the new zones to be established under Law 10. They will therefore be forced to sell their shares in these zones to foreigners.”
Al-Abdah added: “The most grave aspect of Law 10 and which was absent from the latest amendments is that it allows holding companies to buy property in the new zones in return for their contribution to the reconstruction of these zones. It is well known that these companies have sectarian and political ties with Iran.
He called for the ratcheting up of pressure on the Assad regime to force it to repeal the legislations it is issuing; invalidate their effects; and not to make changes to property deeds of Syrians before the creation of a safe environment for the return of refugees and the release of detainees." (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
A delegation of the Syrian Coalition held meetings with ambassadors and diplomats in the Turkish capital Ankara on Tuesday. The meetings, which were organized by the Coalition’s Department of Foreign Relations, discussed the latest developments in the political process as well as the situation on the ground in Idlib province and the areas east of the Euphrates River.
The delegation met with the ambassadors of Belgium, Jordan and Egypt as well as officials in charge of the Syrian issue in the Turkish Foreign Ministry. The delegation was headed by Vice-president of the Syrian Coalition, Dima Moussa and included members of the political committee Hawas Khalil and Abdul Majid Barakat as well as member of the Department of Foreign Relations Mohammed Dughaim.
Tabled for discussions were the latest developments in the political process and the need to reinvigorate it in accordance with the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN Security Council Resolution 2254. The discussions also included prospects for the launch of the Constitutional Committee and the need for the UN to take a firm stance towards the Assad regime’s attempts to disrupt the work of the Committee and prevent any progress in the political process. The delegation underscored the need to discuss all the baskets as was stipulated by the Geneva negotiating process.
Moreover, the delegation raised the issue of the violations being committed by the Assad regime and the Iranian-backed militias of the Idlib agreement. They warned that the continuation of these violations would negatively affect the overall situation in Syria, including putting millions of Syrians in that region at serious risk.
Members of the Syrian Coalition said that the Idlib agreement could pave the way for the establishment of a nationwide ceasefire. They called for stepping up international support for the agreement and the ratcheting up of pressure on Russia to rein in the Assad regime’s crimes and violations. Pressure needs also to be exerted on the Assad regime to force it to release detainees and disclose the fate of the forcibly disappeared persons, they said, emphasizing the importance of the issue of accountability.
The delegation also highlighted the difficult humanitarian conditions in Al-Rukban IDPs camp resulting from the blockade being imposed by the Assad regime. They urged Jordanian officials to continue to work with the relevant parties to prevent a humanitarian disaster in the camp.
For their part, the ambassadors and diplomats reaffirmed their countries’ continued support for the rights of the Syrian people to regain freedom and dignity. They stressed the need for a ceasefire and the resumption of the political process in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 2254. They added that the return of Syrian refugees must be voluntary and in a safe, neutral environment as key to achieving progress in the political process. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Lebanese Minister of State for Refugee Affairs Mouin Merehbi said that the Hezbollah militia had kidnapped Syrian refugees in Lebanon last week. Vice-president of the Syrian Coalition Abdel Basset Hamou called for the disclosure of the fate of the kidnapped and the provision of more protection for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
In comments he published on Facebook, Merehbi said that "the Iranian party" kidnapped a number of Syrian refugees living in the town of Aramoun last week. He said that that the kidnapped included Khalid Jassem al-Faraj, Walid Mohammed al-Hussein, and Mohammed Mahmoud al-Jassem.
Vice-president of the Syrian Coalition Abdel Basset Hamou condemned the violations being committed by the Hezbollah militia against the Syrian refugees. He said that these violations violated the international laws on the protection of refugees and constituted war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Hamou called on the United Nations to open an urgent investigation into the incident and disclose the fate of the kidnapped. He called for holding those responsible to account as he stressed that the Lebanese government is equally responsible as it has failed to rein in the Hezbollah militia’s continued crimes against Syrian refugees.
Last week, the Lebanese minister revealed other crimes against the returning refugees from Lebanon to Syria. He said that he had information about Syrian refugees who had been killed after they returned to their country in June. He added that the latest of these killings took place last week against a family in the border village of Al-Barouha in rural Homs. He cited a source inside Syria as telling him that Assad regime’s security officials stormed the family’s house and killed the father, his son and a nephew.
Lebanese newspapers reported that the Hezbollah militia kidnapped three defecting regime army officers and handed them over to the Assad regime. The officers were reportedly killed under brutal torture.
According to these reports, the Hezbollah militia kidnapped officers Ismail Rida al-Antawi, Jasser al-Mahamid and Kamal Bakir in the period between 2014 and 2016 and handed them over to the Assad regime. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Syrian Coalition’s General Assembly concluded its 42nd meeting on Sunday. Members of the Assembly stressed the importance of giving priority to finding ways to improve services being provided for civilians inside Syria. They also discussed the establishment of mechanisms for action and coordination amongst institutions of the revolution with regards to governance in the areas that are outside the control of the Assad regime.
Members of the Assembly condemned the Assad regime forces’ violations of the Idlib agreement as they called for full and strict commitment to implement its terms, especially with regards to the violations being carried out by the Assad regime and its allies on a daily basis.
The Assembly decided to step up efforts with regards to the issue of detainees and to coordinate with the various institutions of the revolution, civil society organizations, international organizations and major countries with the aim of exerting pressure on the Assad regime to force it to suspend the death sentence against detainees in Hama Central Prison.
Participants in the meeting highly applauded the activities of civil society organizations and human rights activists, especially their efforts leading to the French judiciary’s issuance of arrest warrants for Assad regime officials. They stressed that such a move will serve efforts to follow up on the issues of accountability and justice. The Coalition is intensifying its efforts with several countries to push for the formation of an independent international investigation mechanism through the UN General Assembly.
With regards to the political process, the Assembly discussed the latest developments in the political process and the convening of the Constitutional Committee. It also discussed the Assad regime and allies’ continued obstruction of its formation and their insistence on obstructing the role of the United Nations in this regard.
The participants stressed the important role of the UN as the basis of the political process in Geneva which is sponsored and facilitated by the United Nations as the sole reference to the Constitutional Committee. They also decided to step up communications with all regional and international parties to ensure complete implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and the Geneva Communique of 2012 with all its articles and without any reduction and according to the sequence of the items contained in the Communique.
Tabled for discussion were also the reports on the situation in Al-Raqqa province, especially the suffering of the civilian population and the violations taking place there by the PYD militia, especially the recent assassination of Sheikh Bashir Faisal Al-Huwaidi. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Syrian Coalition’s General Assembly thanked all the countries that begun to accept the expired travel documents belonging to Syrians and allow them to move freely.
In a press release issued on Monday, the Syrian Coalition said that its General Assembly “thank the countries that began to accept the expired passports belonging to Syrians and allow them to move freely."
The Coalition expressed hope that "other countries would follow suit and prevent the Assad regime from further exploiting this issue to put financial and political pressure on Syrians.”
Last week, the German government issued a decision exempting Syrian refugees on its territory from the obligation to obtain identity papers should going to the Assad regime’s embassy will endanger them or their relatives in Syria.
In a letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Head of the Syrian Coalition’s media department Ahmed Ramadan asked for a similar decision in order to put an end to the Assad regime’s blackmail of Syrians.
"I ask your Excellency to exempt the Syrians in Turkey from the obligation to renew their travel documents or go to the consulate of the Assad regime and accept the residence permit and the expired passports."
Ramadan added: "Nearly 3.5 million Syrians in Turkey are subjected to blackmail, insults and intimidation. In addition, Assad regime-linked gangs are profiteering from this.”
Ramadan pointed out that “the Assad regime charges $800-1200 USD for the renewal of a single passport for just two years, which allows it to squeeze revenue and fill its coffers with about three billion US dollars from one country only.
Ramadan concluded his message by saying: "Blackmail must ends. The tyrannical Assad regime must not be allowed to further squeeze more revenue out of this.” (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The 42nd session of the Syrian Coalition’s General Assembly begun on Saturday with participants focusing on the latest developments with regards to the security and stability in the liberated areas as well as on the situation in eastern Syria which is under the control of the militia of the Democratic Union Party (PYD).
The meeting will also discuss the latest developments with regards to the Geneva political process, the start of the work of the Constitutional Committee, and the rest of the baskets included in the Geneva process.
Members of the General Assembly condemned the Assad regime's attempts to disrupt the Idlib Agreement through the repeated violations claiming the lives of dozens of people with the help of the Iranian terrorist militias. The latest of these violations took place in the town of Zallaqiyat in northern rural Hama where 23 fighters of the Free Syrian Army were killed in a regime attack on their positions on Friday. The violations also included the horrible massacre that the Assad regime committed in the town of Jarjanaz in rural Idlib last week.
The members also discussed the activation of civil administration in northern Syria as they stressed the need to support the civil administration as key to the restoration of stability and security as well as the provision of better services for civilians.
Vice-president of the Syrian Coalition Badr Jamous said: "We are working on a number of projects aimed at introducing radical changes in the general situation of the region by benefiting from the cessation of military operations following the Idlib agreement." He pointed out that these changes will focus on ending the military situation and making a transition to the civil administration which will prioritize the rehabilitation of the judiciary and police.
Jamous stressed that the Assad regime’s continued violations "confirmed our view on the need to achieve a comprehensive political transition and thwart attempts to rehabilitate the Assad regime."
Jamous pointed out that "the future of Syria is linked to the establishment of a new system of rule that is based on the Geneva Communique of 2012 and the UN Security Council resolution 2254. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)