The Syrian Coalition denounced the Assad regime’s presidency of the UN-backed disarmament forum on chemical & nuclear weapons, saying it would will be “a shock for the conscience of humanity and a betrayal for the victims of these chemical attacks” numbering over 200.
In a letter sent Saturday to 18 countries, President of the Syrian Coalition Abdurrahman Mustafa called for a boycott of the forum during the four weeks of Assad's presidency. The letter was sent to the governments of the United States, Britain, Turkey, Germany, France, Canada, Japan, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia, Switzerland, Finland, New Zealand and the Ukraine.
President Mustafa warned that allowing the Assad regime’s to chair such conference risks “undermining the UN’s credibility and the integrity of disarmament framework.” He underscored that “the Assad regime’s use of deadly chemical and unconventional weapons and its illegal pursuit of nuclear weapons is a breach of its disarmament obligations and run counter to the objectives and fundamental principles of the Conference on Disarmament.”
“The Assad regime has flagrantly violated the chemical weapons convention and the UNSC resolutions. It was documented by the OPCW – UN Joint Investigative Mechanism in its report submitted to the UN Security Council on 25th October 2017. This regime has gassed the Syrian people to death on 21st August 2013 for the first time, and least but not last on 7th April 2018.”
The letter added: “Indeed, ‘having the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad preside over global chemical and nuclear weapons disarmament will be like putting a serial rapist (Jack the Ripper) in charge of a women’s shelter,’ as said by Mr. Hillel Neuer, the executive director of the United National Watch.”
“We count on our good friends to spare no effort to ensure an end is put to the suffering of the Syrian people, to hold the perpetrators accountable, and to finally fulfill their just demands of freedom, dignity and justice,” President Mustafa added.
The Conference on Disarmament was established in 1979 during a special session of the UN General Assembly. It comprised 65 states that have been divided according to four core issues in recent years. With three sessions usually held each year, the chair of the Conference rotates every four working weeks following the English alphabetical list of membership. Decisions are made by consensus. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Syrian Coalition condemned the assassination of civil defense volunteers in Aleppo province by unknown gunmen, stressing that attacking the civil defense volunteers is like attacking one’s doctor.
Unknown gunmen assaulted a civil defense center in the town of Tal Hadiyah in rural Aleppo at dawn today, killing four volunteers and wounding three others before fleeing.
Eyewitnesses in the town reported that unidentified gunmen riding in a porter vehicle attacked the civil defense center in the town located near the town of Hadir in southern rural Aleppo.
Activists pointed out that the gunmen also stole all equipment in the center, such as vehicles and mobile phones belonging to the slain volunteers.
The Coalition stressed the need for the concerned authorities in the area to go after the criminals and bring them to justice as soon as possible, stressing that attacking volunteers who brave death to save lives of civilians is tantamount to attacking innocent civilians everywhere.
A similar attack previously targeted civil defense volunteers, also Known as the White Helmets, in the town of Sarmin in eastern rural Idlib last year. The attackers shot dead all the volunteers inside and stole equipment in the center before they fled.
The White Helmets first emerged in 2012 to help victims of the Assad regime attacks on civilian areas. The organization received several international awards and was nominated by foreign and Syrian activists for the 2016 Nobel Prize.
The volunteer group, which was officially founded in October 2014, has 150 centers distributed across all the liberated areas in Syria. It carries out search and rescue operations among the rubble of bombed buildings and extinguish fires caused by the Assad regime and its allies’ attacks. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Baladi News Network)
President of the Syrian Coalition Abdurrahman Mustafa met with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in the Turkish capital of Ankara on Thursday and discussed with him the latest political and field developments in Syria.
Mustafa emphasized the strong, strategic relationship with Turkey that is based on continued support for the Syrian Coalition and its institutions, particularly the Syrian Interim Government (SIG) as he stressed the importance of empowering SIG in the liberated areas.
Mustafa also stressed the need to consolidate the ceasefire and reinvigorate the negotiating process in Geneva in order to achieve a comprehensive political transition in accordance with the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN Security Council resolution 2254. He also called for urging Russia to force the Assad regime to seriously engage in the political process.
Moreover, Mustapha stressed the need to hold accountable perpetrators of war crimes in Syria, chief among them is Bashar al-Assad and his clique especially after it has been found responsible for the repeated use of chemical weapons and other internationally prohibited weapons as well as the mass killings and displacement of millions of Syrians.
President Mustafa thanked the government and people of Turkey for their efforts to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people which has been ongoing since 2011 as a result of the crimes the Assad regime is committing to cling to power and its refusal of a peaceful transition in the country and the insistence on pursuing a bloody military solution. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The past few days have seen increasing violations by the militia of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) against civilians and displaced persons in the areas under its control. The Syrian Coalition has strongly condemned these violations, most notably the murder, arbitrary arrests and torture of civilians. The Coalition said that the PYD militia is copying the Assad regime’s repressive policies aimed at intimidating and terrorizing Syrian civilians.
In a press release issued on Wednesday, the Coalition called for a complete and immediate cessation of all forms of support for the PYD militia as it denounced the lukewarm position some countries are showing towards the terrorist threat being posed by this militia.
The Coalition affirmed its condemnation of these violations, kidnappings and intimidation of the civilian population as it expressed its full solidarity with the local residents and the internally displaced persons who went on a general strike in Manbij to protest against these violations.
“The PYD militia responded to the strike by opening fire at the shops whose owners closed down, an act that is reminiscent of the Assad regime's attempts to suppress the popular uprising in its infancy,” the Coalition said.
“The reprehensible crimes and violations being committed by the PYD militia also affected the IDPs as the militia is preventing them from returning to their villages and towns in the Afrin area.”
The PYD militia kidnapped several displaced households, including women and children, and took them to an unknown location. PYD militiamen also seized identity cards of residents of the IDPs camps to force them to stay inside. Two of the displaced people were killed after the PYD militia opened fire to disperse a demonstration that the IDPs staged to demand that they are allowed to return to their homes in Afrin.
The Coalition called attention to hundreds of thousands of people who have been displaced from the areas that are currently under the control of the PYD militia, stressing the need to allow them to return to their towns and villages and provide guarantees for their safety.
The PYD “terrorist” militia launched a campaign of arrests, kidnappings and house-to-house raids in eastern rural Raqqa, the town of Manbij in rural Aleppo, and Hasaka province searching for young men to forcibly recruit them into its ranks. The militias also violently detained a number of people in rural Raqqa and took them to an unknown destination under false pretexts and accusations. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Vice-President of the Syrian Coalition, Dima Moussa, warned that Law No. 10 which has been recently issued by the Assad regime will have many negative consequences for the political process and political transition that was outlined in the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN Security Council resolution 2254.
Moussa made these remarks during a workshop that was organized by the Day After, an independent, Syrian-led civil society organization. Participants in the workshop, who included judges, lawyers, legal experts as well as representatives of states and international organizations, discussed the legal, political, and economic aspects of the new legalization.
Moussa underscored that the Assad regime’s issuance of the new law while talk about the drafting of a new constitution is underway was a further proof of the regime’s lack of seriousness about the whole political process and of its insistence on pursuing a bloody military solution to the conflict.
Law No. 10 will also risk preventing the bringing about of a comprehensive political transition as was stipulated by UN resolutions on Syria, Moussa said. She cautioned that the new law would prevent the return of refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes, which will pose a new problem for the electoral process as it would make it difficult to identify the areas where voters live.
Moreover, Moussa pointed out that the Assad regime is trying to cover up the war crimes its forces have committed over the past seven years by destroying all evidence about these crimes. This will hinder investigations into war crimes and violations and complicate efforts to achieve transitional justice, she added.
A number of countries, most notably Germany, also criticized Law No. 10. The German Foreign Ministry said it was "deeply angered" by Assad's latest decree because it amounted to property dispossession of Syrian refugees "on a great scale.” The Ministry also said the legislative promulgation was an apparent attempt to fundamentally modify local conditions "to the benefit of the regime and its supporters and hinder the return of a huge number of Syrians."
Chief the Lebanese Forces Samir Geagea described the new law as "very dangerous" as it risks preventing the return of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Echoing the same concerns, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri described the new measure as "fraudulent." He noted that the new law is solely aimed at preventing the displaced Syrians from returning to their country and threatens hundreds of thousands of displaced people to confiscate their property if they do not return within a specific period. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
A Syrian Coalition official said that Russia is repeating in Syria the forced migration and genocide it committed against the Circassians in the North Caucasus back in 1864.
On the occasion of the "Circassian Day of Mourning", which falls on May 21, member of the Syrian Coalition and former Vice-president Salwa Aksoy on Monday said that Russia is responsible for the mass murder and forced migration of more than two million Circassians. She said that Russia is repeating the same crime in Syria following its aggression on the country.
Aksoy said that the mass forced displacement taking place in different parts of Syria is a repeat of these operations. She added that the international community has a responsibility today to stop these terrorist practices against the Syrian people, stressing the right of all civilians to return to their homes and areas of origin.
Aksoy also called upon the United Nations to activate the international neutral mechanism to hold war criminals accountable and to prevent any further mass forced displacement.
In a report released on Sunday, the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) said that the Russian forces have killed no fewer than 6,133 Syrian civilians, including 1,761 children and 661 women since the start of its direct military intervention in Syria in September 2015.
The Network said that it had recorded at least 939 attacks on vital civilian centers in Syria by the Russian forces, including 169 attacks on schools, 167 on medical facilities, 140 on mosques, and 55 attacks on public markets. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
An official in the Syrian Coalition said that Iran is defying Russia and the entire international community by insisting on staying in Syria, pointing out that Iran is the de facto ruler of the country and prevents any progress in the political process and the efforts to combat terrorism and restore stability.
Secretary of the Coalition’s political committee Riad al-Hassan said that Iran is still seeking to create further chaos in Syria and the region and will not abandon its plans to export the Khomeini revolution to the rest of the neighboring countries.
Hassan stressed that Tehran’s growing influence in Syria is the main stumbling block to reaching a peaceful settlement. "Tehran supports Assad's survival in power despite all the war crimes he has committed and prevents any solution in Syria except the one that suits it plans. The statements being made by the Iranian officials demonstrate that Iran, not Russia, is the actual ruler of Syria.”
Hassan went on to say that Iran is responsible for dozens of massacres against civilians in Syria, adding that these massacres are of a purely sectarian nature with the aim of creating chaos and further fueling the sectarian strife in Syria.
The withdrawal of the Iranian militias from Syria and the rest of the countries of the region is the key to peace and combating terrorism in all its forms as well as to restoring and strengthening social cohesion. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Syrian Coalition welcomed the decision by the United States and Arab Gulf states to impose new sanctions on the Lebanese Hezbollah leadership, targeting its Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah and his deputy Naim Qassem. The Coalition described the decision as an important step to limit the influence of Hezbollah militia as it has been involved in the killings against the Syrian people.
The US Treasury Department on Wednesday said four other individuals were also sanctioned, adding that Wednesday’s sanctions targeted members of the primary decision-making body of Hezbollah.
The Department added that the sanctions targeted Head of Hezbollah’s Political Council Ibrahim Amin al-Sayyid, Chairman of the Shari'a Committee Mohammad Yazbek, and Nasrallah’s assistant for political affairs Hussein Khalil.
“Under the dictates of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF), secretary general and head of the Shura Council, Hasan Nasrallah, is prolonging the human suffering in Syria, fueling the violence in Iraq and Yemen, putting the Lebanese state and the Lebanese people at risk, and destabilizing the entire region.” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
A senior White House official said the sanctions were part of a campaign aimed at Hezbollah to limit Iran's influence in the region, which funds Hezbollah with about $700 million annually to carry out its operations and activities around the world.
The measures were imposed jointly by Washington and its partners in the Terrorist Financing and Targeting Center (TFTC), which includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and United Arab Emirates, Mnuchin said.
The Syrian Coalition has repeatedly stressed the need to limit the role of all militias supporting the Assad regime, including the Hezbollah militias which is helping the Assad regime in its crimes against Syrians and whose policies turned out to be a disaster affecting the Lebanese people as a whole. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)
A Syrian Coalition official said that the Assad regime and its allies continued to violate the ‘de-escalation zones’ agreements that was reached in Astana and commit widespread war crimes against civilians. He stressed the need to release the detainees, allow the introduction of humanitarian aid, and allow the return of displaced persons to their homes.
Member of the Coalition’s political committee Yasser Farhan said that the Assad regime is seeking to sabotage the Astana agreement through the continued targeting of civilians as well as the deliberate, systematic destruction of hospitals and healthcare and civil defense centers and all services facilities that are crucial to human survival. He stressed that such attacks constituted "war crimes and genocide and crimes against humanity that were well documented by many independent human rights organizations.”
Farhan underscored that ensuring protection for millions of Syrians in Idlib province, rural Aleppo, and the southern region was the primary goal of the delegation of the revolution to the ninth round of talks in Astana. He noted that the opposition delegation succeeded in securing guarantees that the Assad regime and Iran will not be allowed to try to recapture or bomb these areas.
Farhan pointed out that the delegation of the armed opposition presented a memorandum to Russia and the United Nations in which it made it clear that reaching side agreements in northern rural Homs and eastern Ghouta, which are covered by the ‘de-escalation zones’ agreement according to Article 1 of the Memorandum of Understanding that was concluded by the guarantors in Astana on May 4 2017, represented blatant violation of the agreement. He warned that such unilateral agreements risked damaging the credibility of the 'de-escalation zones’ agreement in front of the Syrian people and the international community as well as threatened its total collapse along with all the understandings surrounding it.
Moreover, Farhan noted that these unilateral agreements had led to mass forced displacement of civilians, which reflected negatively on the chances of the success of negotiations and reaching a political solution in Syria. These unilateral agreements also amounted to war crimes under Articles 6, 7 and 8 of the Rome Statute, Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and article 2 of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
Farhan also pointed out that the armed opposition’s memorandum stressed that a political transition in accordance with the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN Security Council resolutions 2118 and 2254 is the only solution that can guarantee the return of millions of displaced persons, prevent the return of terrorism, and restore peace and stability. All attempts to find a political settlement cannot win credibility or succeed unless detainees are released, humanitarian access is allowed, the displaced persons are allowed to return to their homes, and violations are stopped.
Furthermore, Farhan said that the delegation of the armed opposition warned that violations in the areas covered by the ‘de-escalation zones’ agreement as well as the failure to achieve a tangible progress in the issue of detainees would have serious repercussions on the whole Astana track and its credibility.
The memorandum called for the release of detainees, forcing the Assad regime to stop arbitrary detentions, assassinations, and torture of detainees as well as giving independent observers unfettered access to prisons and detentions centers to ensure that detainees are receiving human treatment.
Moreover, the memorandum called for forcing the Assad regime and its allies to abide by the ‘de-escalation zone’ agreement and immediately stop all air and ground attacks against the areas covered by the agreement. It also called for the re-inclusion of the evacuation deal at was reached under the force of arms in northern rural Homs into the Astana Agreement to ensure the safe return of the people who were forcibly displaced from the area.
Farhan concluded his remarks by adding that the memorandum also stressed the need to establish monitoring and accountability mechanisms in order to ensure the implementation of a comprehensive ceasefire and prevent any further violations. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Member of the Syrian Negotiations Commission and the Syrian Coalition’s political committee Hadi al-Bahra met with Chairman of the US Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations Senator Bob Corker at the US Congress on Wednesday. Both sides discussed the latest political and field developments in Syria, most notably the continued war crimes by the Assad regime and the Iranian terrorist militias.
Bahra stressed the importance of the US presence in the region as key to create regional balance and prevent Russia from monopolizing efforts to reach a political solution in Syria. He emphasized the US “leading” role in moving on the UN-led political process in Geneva.
Bahra pointed out that Iran is seeking to disrupt the political process by goading the Assad regime into rejecting a political solution and carrying on with pursuing a military solution. He noted that these actions are added to the crimes the Iranian-led militias are committing against civilians, which led to a spillover of the crisis to the whole region.
Bahra called for supporting the capabilities of the Syrian rebel groups represented by the Syrian National Army to maintain security and stability in the areas that were freed from ISIS and Qaeda. He also stressed the need to continue to support local communities which are at the forefront of the battle to combat terrorism.
Moreover, Bahra pointed out that the US administration’s current policies are unlikely to defeat extremism or restore stability to Syria and the region, calling on the US administration to develop a comprehensive strategy to eliminate the root causes of terrorism represented by the Assad regime and its clique.
Bahra referred to the Free Syrian Army's efforts to confront al-Qaeda in Idlib. He stressed the need to prevent a repeat of the eastern Ghouta and other areas scenario in Idlib as he underscored the importance of protecting civilians, especially after dozens of thousands of forcibly displaced people have recently arrived in the province.
For his part, Senator Bob Corker said he is making the necessary efforts to urge the US administration to adopt a clear policy in Syria that is capable of restoring stability, confronting the growing Iranian influence, and creating the suitable conditions to revive the political process in Geneva. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)