The Syrian Negotiations Commission condemned the assault by the Assad regime and its allied militias on the province of Dara’a, calling on the UN Security Council and the international community to shoulder their responsibilities towards the regime's plans.
In comments posted on Twitter on Friday, Head of the Commission Nasr al-Hariri said that "the Assad regime has renewed the bombardment and military campaign in large areas in southern Syria.” He noted that “the Assad regime is committing new crimes claiming the lives of many civilians and resulting in mass exodus of people from several villages and towns amid dubious international silence."
"The Assad regime sees the continued silence of the international community as green light to commit more massacres in the province in which the Syrian revolution broke out in 2011.”
Hariri called on guarantors of the ‘de-escalation’ zones agreement in southern Syria, the United Nations, and the UN Security Council to shoulder their responsibilities and to put an immediate end to Assad’s military campaign.
Hariri’s remarks came after thousands of civilians fled towns and villages of Dara’a province as the Assad regime forces and the Iranian terrorist, backed by Russian aerial cover, have stepped bombardment of the rebel-held areas in the region. The Syrian civil defense said that the bombardment killed at least ten civilians in different areas of the province on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, on Wednesday said that the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs expressed concern “about reports of an escalation of violence in Dara’a Governorate in southern Syria, which is endangering civilians and causing hundreds of families to become displaced.”
On Tuesday, the Assad regime closed most of the crossings to and from Dara’a province, preventing civilians and goods from moving in the area. It has also brought fresh military reinforcements to the region. The United Nations expressed deep concern about the escalating violence in the region, calling for the taking of all measures to protect the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians there.
Local activists said that nearly 300 families on Tuesday fled the town of Al-Harak towards the Jordanian border, while 200 families fled the town of Al-Harra to safer areas in the nearby Quneitra province. The shelling killed a number of civilians, including a woman in the town of Al-Harak. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
A delegation from the Syrian Coalition visited the European Union headquarters in the Belgian capital Brussels on Wednesday and met with a number of European officials in charge of the Syrian issue. The delegation met with Mr. Marc Otte, the Belgian Foreign Envoy to Syria, the Middle East and North Africa, and Mr. Johan Verkammen, Director Middle East and North Africa at the Belgian Foreign Ministry.
The Coalition’s delegation included representatives of the Syrian Interim Government (SIG), local councils, and Syrian civil society organizations. Participants in the meetings discussed the importance of supporting SIG’s institutions and projects as such support will be important in strengthening the position of the Syrian opposition in the political process.
Tabled for discussion was also the latest developments in the political process. The Coalition’s delegation, which included Vice-president Dima Moussa and Head of the Coalition’s Department of Foreign Affairs Abdul-Ahad Steifo, stressed the importance of continued support for efforts in the issue of human rights and accountability in Syria. They also underscored the importance of activating the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to ensure that perpetrators of war crimes in Syria are held accountable.
Moussa said that people in the liberated areas are in need for active, solid support especially after the Assad regime and its allies destroyed most healthcare, educational, services and judicial facilities and institutions. She stressed that the rehabilitation of these institutions will help alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people and lay the groundwork for civil, democratic work.
Moreover, Moussa underscored that Law No. 10 recently issued by the Assad regime is aimed at consolidating the mass forced displacement and demographic change in Syria. The new legalization risks discouraging Syrian refugees and displaced people from returning to their homes, she added.
Moussa called on the European Union to support efforts for the release of detainees in the prisons of the Assad regime. She noted that arbitrary detention violates international law and international humanitarian law as well as constitutes one of the gravest war crimes the Assad regime is committing in Syria.
The participation of representatives of the Syrian Interim Government and civil society organizations had positive, important impact in the meetings as it helped clarify the major challenges and difficulties facing the activation of services institutions in the liberated areas, Moussa said. She added that this participation also helped highlight the most urgent needs of the large numbers of people who were forcibly displaced in Syria’s north. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
President of the Syrian Coalition Abdurrahman Mustafa said that the Syrian people will continue to seek the restoration of their freedom and dignity, stressing the need to hold all war criminals accountable, most notably Bashar al-Assad and his clique.
"The natural place of Bashar al-Assad is not in front of journalists' cameras and answering their questions, but behind the bars just like any war criminal," Mustafa said in an interview with Arabi21 newspaper.
Mustafa stressed that the Syrian people are going forward to achieve the objectives of the Syrian revolution, namely restoring their natural rights and the establishment of a system of rule that guarantees freedom, justice and dignity without discrimination and one that ensures the peaceful transfer of power.
Mustafa reiterated the Coalition’s commitment to a political solution, stressing that any negotiation path that fulfills the demands of the Syrian people and supports the political track in accordance with the UN resolutions and the Geneva Communique of 2012 will be acceptable.
On the dangers threatening the Syrian revolution, Mustafa noted that there are many projects and plans today, adding that international players are trying serve their interests at the expense of the Syrian people. “We do not accept these policies and we will confront them. The real interest of the world and countries of the region lies in a free and democratic Syria, free of external interference in all its forms."
Mustafa highly praised the role of the Free Syrian Army groups in the south in resisting all the pressures they are subjected to. He pointed out that rebels there are facing multiple enemies, mainly Russia, regime forces and the Iranian terrorist militias, in addition to the role of the Israeli occupation.
As for the work of the Coalition’s institutions in the liberated areas, Mustafa pointed out that the next period will be focused on improving the services being provided to civilians in those areas. He said that the Coalition would be seeking to work closer to the revolution’s social base and ensure the provision of services through its executive arms, namely the Syrian Interim Government, local councils, and the Assistance Coordination Unit. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
An official in the Syrian Coalition said that Iran has committed new violations against children in Syria, adding that it is added to the long litany of war crimes the Iranian terrorist militias are committing against Syrian civilians, most notably mass killings, destruction, and demographic change.
Secretary of the Coalition’s political committee Riad al-Hassan said that Tehran has most recently sought to teach Persian language children to children in the towns and villages of Deir Ezzor. He added that the move represented an attempt by Iran to "impose its sectarian culture in Syria."
Hassan said that the new move is an attempt by Iran to find another means to consolidate its occupation of Syria after sensing that its military presence in the country is under growing threat. He noted that Tehran uses cultural hegemony as a new way to achieve its goals.
Local media outlets said that 250 children from Deir Ezzor has recently began attending Iranian schools to learn Persian, adding that the children are aged between 8 and 15 years old.
Iran has recently opened three schools in the town of Albu Kamal and one another in the town of Mayadin with an Iranian educational staff, according to the media outlets.
The schools will give each child 10,000 Syrian pounds a month to entice more children to attend these schools, which have also promised a large financial prize for children who achieve fluency in Persian language in a short period of time.
Hassan underscored that resorting to the sectarian brainwashing of children and preparing them to be fighters in the future are new war crimes. He called on the international community, human rights organizations, and UNICEF to protect children and stop Iran's crimes against them.
Iran is exploiting the dire living conditions and impoverishment in the towns and villages of Deir Ezzor after years of suffering as a result of the tyranny of the Assad regime and the brutality of the ISIS extremist group. Iran also opened offices to recruit locals into the Al-Quds Brigade.
Similar moves have already been reported in Lattakia and the Syrian coast as well as in Damascus, which provided yet another proof that Iran is seeking to impose its cultural hegemony in Syria. Moreover, the Assad regime approved the opening of a branch of the Iranian Islamic Azad University in Syrian cities back in January. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Vice-president of the Syrian Coalition, Dima Moussa, emphasized the important role the European Union can play in the rehabilitation of services institutions and organizations in the liberated areas as well as in supporting the Syrian Interim Government (SIG), local councils and civil society organizations to fill the vacuum in those areas.
Moussa said that people in liberated areas are in need for active, solid support given that the majority of health, educational, services and judicial institutions have been destroyed by the Assad regime and its allies. She underscored that the reactivation of these institutions would ease the suffering of the Syrian people and contribute to the establishment of the groundwork for civil, democratic work.
Moussa made these remarks ahead of a meeting that the European Union will hold in the Belgian capital Brussels on Wednesday. Moussa, Head of the Syrian Coalition’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Abdul Ahad Steifo, SIG”s head Jawad Abu Hatab, and other SIG representatives and civil society organizations will participate in the meeting.
Moussa stressed that the Syrian Coalition is keen to strengthen the partnership and establish permanent relations with the EU countries, adding that tomorrow’s meeting will discuss the development of a number of projects in the liberated areas.
Moreover, Moussa stressed the need to fill the vacuum in these areas and establish the nucleus of government institutions acting as an alternative to the Assad regime. "The SIG’s staff, local councils and civil society organizations have sufficient experience to play this important role at this time," she said.
Moussa made it clear that the offering of assistance for the civilian population in the liberated areas is consistent with the EU strategy to restore stability, provide livelihoods for civilians, and enable them to administer their areas and stay in them. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
President of the Syrian Coalition Abdurrahman Mustafa welcomed the entry of Turkish troops into the town of Manbij in Aleppo province under an agreement with the United States.
President Mustafa described the move as an ‘important step’ to achieve stability in all liberated areas across Syria, allow the return of the displaced people to their areas of origin, and defeat all terrorist organizations that are seeking to break the will of the Syrians people.
Ten days ago, Ankara and Washington finalized an agreement about a roadmap for Manbij that included the withdrawal of militias of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) from the town as well as the restoration of security and stability to the region and the rehabilitation of service institutions.
President Mustafa earlier said that the Coalition would contribute to the election of a local council in Manbij as it previously did in the Afrin region. He noted that "the local councils in Afrin are working under the supervision of the Coalition, and we are seeking to do the same thing in Manbij.”
Mustafa pointed out that the Coalition is seeking to play a greater role in the administration of the liberated areas through the Syrian Interim Government and Assistance Coordination Unit whose task will be to provide services for the local population.
Mustafa said that the Coalition is working diligently to establish offices in various towns and villages in the liberated areas. He noted that these efforts are part of the Coalition’s strategy to move closer to “the revolution’s social base and rekindle the spirit of the revolution until freedom and dignity are regained and the Assad regime is deposed.” (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
President of the Syrian Coalition Abdurrahman Mustafa said that the Coalition will contribute to the election of a local council in the town of Manbij as it previously did in the Afrin region.
Mustafa made these remarks to reporters on the sidelines of an iftar feast the Coalition organized at its headquarters in Istanbul on Tuesday.
"The local councils in Afrin is working under the supervision of the Coalition, and we are seeking to do the same thing in Manbij once Turkey and the United States finalize an agreement on the town,” President Mustafa added.
Mustafa pointed out that the Coalition is consulting with Ankara on the issue of the establishment of local administration in Manbij. He said that the Coalition is seeking to play a greater role in the liberated areas and build a strategic relationship with Turkey.
Mustafa noted that the current plan of the Coalition is aimed at supporting the political process and establishing a closer relationship with the revolution’s social base. He said that efforts are underway to open offices of the Coalition in various towns and villages inside Syria.
Washington and Ankara have recently reached a ‘road map’ for the town of Manbij that will see the withdrawal of the PYD militias from the town; ensure the restoration of security and stability to the region; and resume the provision of essential services for the local population. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)
Member of the Syrian Coalition’s political committee Oqab Yahya said that the figures the United Nations issued on Monday are damning evidence of the magnitude of the crimes being committed by the Assad regime against civilians, especially killings, forced displacement and demographic change.
Panos Moumtzis, the UN regional humanitarian coordinator for Syria, on Monday told reporters in Geneva that “we are seeing a massive displacement inside Syria... From January to April, there were over 920,000 newly displaced people.”
Yahya called for preserving all reports and investigations on Syria to be used as evidence of the Assad regime’s crimes. He stressed the need to transfer Syria to the International Criminal Court and hold those responsible for war crimes accountable.
The Assad regime is systematically emptying many areas across Syria of their local communities with the aim bringing about demographic change in the county, Yahya said. He warned that Assad regime deliberately emptied the liberated areas of its local population and replaced them with loyalists to the regime and Iran.
"The Assad regime and its Russian ally’s bombings, sieges and forced displacement are war crimes that the international community must confront and refer to international courts."
Since early 2018, the Assad regime, Russia, and the Iranian terrorist groups have considerably intensified attacks against civilians in the besieged areas, using various types of weapons, including internationally prohibited weapons and chemical weapons.
The escalating military operations led to the mass forced displacement of people from various areas across Syria to Idlib and rural Aleppo. The largest mass forced displacement operation took place in eastern Ghouta, which was home to about 400,000 people. The majority of the areas that were targeted by these attacks were covered by the ‘de-escalation zones’ agreement. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Militias of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) seized houses of members of the Kurdish National Council in northeastern Syria and settled other families in them. The Syrian Coalition said that these militias were trying to impose a de facto situation on civilians under the force of arms and through intimidation and the commission of various crimes against them.
The PYD militias, which the Coalition described as "terrorist," have put their hands on houses of Fouad Aliko and Ibrahim Berro. They earlier seized house of political dissident Abdulhakim Bashar. Aliko said that “these mean methods will not deter us from exposing your approach which caused serious harm to the Kurdish cause and the Kurdish people.”
"All houses do not equal a single drop of the blood of the people who were killed in your futile battles serving the agendas and interests of others. Time and history are enough to punish you for the crimes you have committed against this oppressed people who have suffered a lot because of the oppression and terror you committed against them,” Aliko said.
Former head of the Kurdish National Council, Ibrahim Berro, said that his sister's house was attacked by ten heavily armed men who were led by members of the terrorist PKK group. He said that the militias had kidnapped his sister's husband and forced the children out of the house at gunpoint and confiscated the house under the pretext that it was originally owned by Berro.
The Kurdish National Council condemned all "the PYD’s terrorist practices the Kurds in general as well as leaders and members of the Council, especially those who disagree with its policies.” It stressed that these acts "violated all human and democratic values, principles of human rights, and laws on personal property rights. They will also lead to growing concerns among the Kurds over their own safety and property, it added. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Syrian Coalition once again warned the United Nations and the UN Security Council of the dangers of attacks by the regime and Russia on towns and villages in Idlib province that are covered by the ‘de-escalation zones’ agreement. It stressed that urgent action needs to be taken to prevent further escalation and ensure protection for civilians.
The Assad regime and Russian air forces on Sunday raided residential areas and vital civilian centers in Idlib province, killing and injuring dozens of people. The bombings came just two days following the horrible massacre the Russian air force committed in the town of Zardana claiming the lives of over 40 people.
Local activists said that at least 15 civilians were killed, including six children, and dozens more wounded in airstrikes by the Russian and Assad regime air forces on a children's hospital in the town of Taftanaz and residential areas in the towns of Binnish and Ariha on Sunday.
The airstrikes knocked out the children’s hospital in Taftanaz, with witnesses confirming that the facility was deliberately and directly targeted.
The Coalition renewed calls on the world’s major powers and friendly countries to assume their responsibilities to stop the crimes being committed in Syria.
“Urgent action needs to be taken to enforce the UN Security Council resolutions demanding an end to the killings, the release of detainees, and the achievement of a political transition in accordance with the Geneva Communique of 2012 and the relevant Security Council resolutions,” the Coalition said.
The Coalition pointed out that Idlib province has become densely populated especially after the arrival of people who were forcibly displaced from other parts of Syria. It warned that the repeated bombardment of Idlib threatens an unprecedented humanitarian disaster. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)