Dozens of civilians, including women and children, were killed and dozens more were wounded in barrel bomb attacks by the Assad regime in Dara’a province on Friday. The Syrian Coalition warned that the war crimes the Assad regime is committing in southern Syria undermine all chances of a political solution.
Office for the Documentation of Victims in Dara’a province said that about 20 civilians, including a child and two women, were killed in airstrikes and artillery shelling on western rural Dara’a.
Local activists said that the Assad regime stepped up barrel bombing of the rebel-held areas in the past 48 hours. The attacks targeted Dara’a city as well as the towns of Nawa, Tafas, Quheil, Al-Musaifra, and Umm Al-Mayathin. The town of Naiema was hit with a land-to-land missile.
President of the Syrian Coalition, Abdurrahman Mustafa, said that “Dara’a was under fire," pointing out that "a large part of the people of Dara’a fled their homes to escape the bombardment.”
"Russian jets are burning people and stone, while the Iranian and Assad militias are committing war crimes," Mustafa said. He questioned the commitment of the friends of the Syrian people to support the FSA groups and stand on the side of the Syrian people in their struggle to regain freedom and dignity. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
A member of the Syrian Coalition said that the ongoing onslaught against civilians in Dara’a is part of a litany of war crimes being committed by the Assad regime with the help of Russia and Iran. He stressed that the Assad regime’s capture of new territory will not change the reality of the political process aimed at achieving full political transition in Syria in accordance with the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN Security Council resolution 2254.
At a meeting with members of the team of the UN special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura and officials of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, member of the Coalition’s political committee, Yasser al-Farhan called for serious intervention by the United Nations to stop the Assad regime's onslaught on Dara’a. He also called for the UN to shoulder its responsibilities and prevent the mass forced displacement of residents of Dara’a province.
Al-Farhan stressed that the Assad regime and its allies have never been serious about the political process as they insisted on pursuing a bloody military solution in Syria. "We made this point clear in all our meetings with the United Nations officials and our friends, but our calls and warnings have all fallen on deaf ears.”
Al-Farhan urged the UN officials to put an end to the ongoing violations by the PYD militia against civilians, stressing that the wholesale violations in Syria "must not be tolerated."
Moreover, Al-Farhan highlighted the dangers of Law No. 10 which has been recently issued by the Assad regime. He called for preventing the implementation of the law as it represented "encroachment on the rights and property of the people who have been forcibly displaced from their areas of origin. He also strongly condemned all decrees and legislations issued by the Assad regime under request from Iran which seeks to serve its expansionist project in Syria. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Member of the Syrian Coalition’s political committee Yasser al-Farhan said that the Assad regime is responsible for committing thousands of crimes against Syrian civilians through arbitrary detention, kidnapping, and torturing them to death.
Al-Farhan was speaking at a special session on arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances in Syria that was organized by the Euro-Syrian Democratic Forum and the No Peace Without Justice organization on the sidelines of the 38th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.
Al-Farhan, who is also Head the Syrian National Commission on Detainees and Missing Persons (SNCDMP), recently formed by the Syrian Coalition, stressed that detainees in the prisons of the Assad regime are subjected to systematic, brutal torture claiming the lives of tens of thousands of political Syrian dissidents.
The Assad regime did not comply with international resolutions or international conventions calling for the prevention of arbitrary arrest, torture and ill-treatment, al-Farhan said. He added that the Assad regime continued the mass arrests and kidnappings despite the fact that almost all UN Security Council resolutions condemned arbitrary detention, torture, physical liquidation and enforced disappearance against civilians in Syria. They also called for the immediate cessation of such practices and the release of all arbitrarily detained persons.
Al-Farhan said that the formation of the SNCDMP aims to help independent human rights organizations and international organizations to take tangible, practical measures to ensure the release of detainees.
"The issue of detainees is one of the most essential issues. We will not accept that it is used as a bargaining chip. We must not forget this issue nor will we accept that it is postponed until after a political solution is reached." Al-Farhan also stressed the need to ensure accountability and not to link it to obstacles to the political solution. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Syrian Coalition said that the twin terrorist bombings that rocked the town of Afrin on Wednesday were aimed at spreading terror, panic and chaos, reiterating that the Assad regime is the root cause of terrorism and its source.
In a press release issued on Thursday, the Coalition said that terrorists carried out twin car bombings in the town of Afrin in northern rural Aleppo, resulting in the death and injury of many civilians, including women and children. It stressed that such attacks will fail to achieve their goals.
The Coalition pointed out that plans that contradict the will of the Syrian people and seek to break their will are doomed to failure, stressing that terrorism and tyranny will not achieve their goals.
“This crime cannot be viewed independently from other crimes taking place in other parts of Syria, most notably the ongoing assault being launched by the Assad regime's forces and their allies on large areas of southern Syria. Such attacks serve as a further proof of the close relationship among all active terrorist forces in Syria and their organic relationship with the Assad regime.”
The Coalition reiterated that “the Assad regime is the root cause of terror and its source. Absent firm decisions to dry up this source, terrorism will continue to spread in the region and beyond.” (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Syrian Negotiations Commission called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the war crimes being committed by the Assad regime and its allies in the province of Dara’a. It demanded an immediate cessation of military operations as they violate international resolutions on Syria.
The Commission condemned the silence of the UN Security Council and its shirking of its legal and political duties to protect Syrian civilians as well as its failure to put an end to the Assad regime’s use of internationally prohibited weapons against civilians.
At least 45,000 people have fled fighting in Dara’a province, heading towards the border with Jordan, the United Nations said on Tuesday.
Jens Laerke, spokesman of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said that civilians including children had been killed and injured and a hospital had been put out of operation by an airstrike.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International called on the Jordanian government to open its borders to people fleeing the regime’s offensive in southern Syria after the Jordanian government has said it will not accept any more Syrian refugees.
Mouna Elkekhia, Amnesty International’s Advisor on Refugee and Migrant Rights, said: “People fleeing war in Syria are in a desperate life-or-death situation, and the Jordanian government cannot simply abandon them.”
“Jordan has a duty to protect refugees from Syria fleeing conflict and persecution, and to allow them to enter the country.”
The Assad regime has recently launched a large-scale military campaign in Dara’a province, carrying out intense airstrikes and heavy artillery bombardment that killed and injured dozens of civilians, including women and children. The bombing campaign has also forced hundreds of families towards the Jordanian border. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
President of the Syrian Coalition Abdurrahman Mustafa and Head of the Syrian Interim Government (SIG) Jawad Abu Hatab met with representatives of a group of friendly countries of the Syrian people. Both sides discussed the latest developments on the ground in Syria and the fresh military attacks being launched by the Assad regime and Iranian terrorist militias against civilians in southern Syria.
Participants in the meeting, which was also attended by members of the Coalition’s political committee, discussed the mass forced displacement operations being carried out by the Assad regime against civilians in different areas across Syria. They also discussed Law No. 10 and its possible implications for countries hosting Syrian refugees. The discussions also included ways to support the Syrian Interim Government and its projects to provide basic service for the civilian population in the liberated areas.
President Mustafa said that the regime’s escalating attacks have caused mass displacement of civilians in southern Syria, stressing that attacks against civilians constituted war crimes requiring urgent international action to stop them.
President Mustafa pointed out that the Coalition utterly rejects the implementation of Law No. 10 as it is aimed at the consolidation of mass forced displacement and demographic change.
The Coalition is continuing to implement its plan to strengthen its presence in the liberated areas and activate the work of the institutions of the Syrian Interim Government to provide services to the civilian population, President Mustafa said. The Coalition is also seeking to form local councils of the local population to manage the affairs of people in the liberated towns and villages.
For his part, Jawad Abu Hatab said that after two years of work in the liberated areas, the Syrian Interim Government has become a reality. "Our top priority was to provide services in the areas of education, health and local councils. We also sought to achieve stability and prepare the population for a political process."
The Syrian Interim Government is now focusing on seven key issues, namely the police, the judiciary and the adoption of a Syrian law, the Free Syrian Army, the civil prison administration, the national statistical office, the expansion of vocational and higher education, and the provision of essential services, especially in construction and the rehabilitation of roads, Abu Hatab said.
Bashar al-Zoabi, representative of the Southern Front in the Syrian Coalition, stressed that the Assad regime and Russia are committing widespread war crimes in the province of Dara’a. "The situation in Dara’a province is dangerous. We contacted most of the friendly countries and sent them letters via the Coalition and the Syrian Negotiations Commission, but unfortunately the regime continues with its military campaign against civilians in the region. There is a large wave of mass displacement of civilians, with numbers that may reach unprecedented levels in the coming few days should violations of the regime continue.”
For her part, Vice-president of the Syrian Coalition, Dima Moussa, warned that the mass forced displacement and demographic change operations as well as the regime’s issuance of Law No. 10 will have a direct impact on the political process and political transition, especially with the regime’s confiscation of civilian property. She underscored that Law No. 10 risks discouraging the return of displaced persons and refugees to their homes, adding that the issuance of the law “proved that the Assad regime is not serious about engaging in the political process.”
Hadi al-Bahra, member of the political committee, said: "We are focusing not only on forming the Constitutional Committee, but also on its work. This Committee should be part of the Geneva process and under the auspices of the United Nations."
Bahra stressed that the Constitutional Committee "must be a step towards the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 2254 and not an attempt to circumvent the resolution. The Committee must also be a step towards real political transition." (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Syrian Coalition said that thousands of Syrians have performed hajj and umrah over the past six years. It adsded that they all made use of the services Saudi Arabia offers to pilgrims without any discrimination.
It is expected that 18,000 Syrians will perform hajj this year, up from more than 15,000 last year, the Coalition said.
The Coalition commended the successful, fruitful and continuous cooperation between the Coalition’s Supreme Hajj Committee and Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.
The Coalition, on behalf of the Syrian people, extended its thanks and appreciation for the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the Saudi Government for their efforts to provide care and services for pilgrims as well as cater for their needs in order to perform the hajj rituals smoothly and with ease.
The Coalition’s Supreme Hajj Committee continues to exercises its tasks with utmost integrity and transparency, the Coalition said. The Committee coordinates efforts at the highest levels with Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, assumes its responsibilities away from any political considerations, and provides services to all pilgrims without any restrictions or conditions.
The Coalition highly appreciated the enormous efforts the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is making to cater for pilgrims as it emphasizes continued coordination with the Ministry to ensure that Syrian pilgrims are offered the best services. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
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)