The Syrian National Coalition’s political committee and coordinators of the Coalition’s offices on Friday met with representatives of local bodies and councils in the Coalition’s office in rural Aleppo. Both sides discussed the latest developments in rural Hama and Idlib as well as the barbaric military campaign being launched by the Assad and Russian and Iranian forces.
The discussions included the Coalition's diplomatic and political efforts to bring an end to the Assad regime’s onslaught on northwestern Syria. Both sides also discussed the tragedy being experienced by the people of Idlib and rural Hama and the dire conditions facing civilians who were forced by the ruthless shelling and systematic destruction to flee once again. Participants in the meeting called on the international humanitarian organizations to provide the necessary support for civilians who are staying out in the open.
During its meeting with representatives of the northeastern region, the political committee gave an overview of the arrangements for the establishment of a safe zone east of the Euphrates River. It listened to suggestions and proposals of the representatives of rural Hama and Idlib province. It also met with the Rural Damascus Provisional Council, the Free Bar Association, the Commission for the Release of Detainees, and the General Commission of the Eastern Region, Jarablus Sector.
The political committee highlighted the current situation in the ‘de-escalation zone,’ especially the bombings, destruction and mass displacement of the civilian population. The committee also gave an overview of the latest developments in the political process and the future of the east of the Euphrates River. (Source: Syrian National Coalition’s Media Department)
Activists in Idlib province on Friday said that the Assad regime forces and their allied militias started burning and looting civilian homes in the town of Khan Sheikhoun which fell to regime forces a few days ago.
The activists reported that since yesterday, dozens of trucks loaded with furniture have begun to leave the town towards regime-held areas in Hama province.
Russian media outlets published videos showing Russian soldiers accompanying regime forces while combing the town. Social media accounts run by regime loyalists published photos showing vehicles being loaded with furniture and other civilian property, a notorious practice that the Assad regime forces did in all the areas they recaptured from rebel groups.
Observers said that the Assad regime, Russia, and the sectarian militias began celebrating their victory over the people of the town by looting their property, including what was left of furniture, electric appliances, and shops after they destroyed the town and displaced its people. (Source: Syrian National Coalition’s Media Department)
The local council in the town of al-Tih in rural Idlib declared the town a disaster area as a result of attacks by regime forces, Russia and the Iranian militias that led to the destruction of the majority of public facilities and civilian homes.
In a statement published on Thursday, the council said that "the town has recently been subjected to the most brutal bombardment and shelling since the start of the ruthless bombing campaign by the Assad regime backed by the Russian occupation forces and the Iranian sectarian militias.
The statement pointed out that the bombings and shelling had forced the entire population to flee to the north, pointing out that the IDPs suffer tragic humanitarian conditions.
The council called on humanitarian organizations and aid groups “to relieve our people who left behind all their belongings having been forced to abruptly leave the town to escape the criminal gangs of the Assad and the militias of Russia and Iran.”
Al-Tih has been subjected to intense bombardment and shelling since the start of the barbaric bombing campaign against northern rural Hama and southern rural Idlib. (Source: Syrian National Coalition’s Media Department)
The local councils in the towns of Kafarzeita and Latamina in northern rural Hama slammed announcement by the Assad regime about the opening of a so-called humanitarian passage for civilians trapped in the two towns to leave. The councils stressed that all residents of the two towns had already fled to escapee the brutal bombardment by regime forces and their allied militias.
“The Assad regime claimed the opening of a humanitarian crossing in the town of Souran, north of Hama, to evacuate civilians trapped in the two towns, the local councils said in a statement on Thursday. “We confirm that there are no civilians in the towns which have been subjected to relentless bombardment and shelling since 2011. The bombardment destroyed 90 percent of the towns and their infrastructure.”
The statement added that “the last remaining people in the towns left a few days ago when regime forces began encircling the region, adding that the regime’s claims of the opening of a humanitarian passage were suggested by regime agents in the city of Hama.
The local council in Latamina issued a similar statement stressing that there were no civilians in the town. It said that the town’s population of 30,000 have been displaced since 2011 as a result of the relentless bombardment and shelling by the Assad regime and its allies which left more than 95 percent of the town in ruins.
The council described the regime’s claims about the opening of the humanitarian passage as a farce. “The regime intends to bring Shabiha from the city of Hama to the town in yet a new episode of lies and deception which it has always used with the aim of legitimizing its plots.”
The statement called on the peoples of Kafarzeita, Latamina, and Morek as well as all the free people in Syria to hold demonstrations and sit-ins in front of the US and Russian embassies to express rejection of the regime’s capture of these towns.
The two local councils called upon the Turkish guarantor to commit to its pledges to not allow the Assad regime forces to recapture the region. They expressed outright rejection of any agreement to hand over their towns to the Assad regime. (Source: Syrian National Coalition’s Media Department)
The Syrian National Coalition’s Department of Foreign Relations held a number of important meetings with officials and diplomats from the US State Department, Germany, France, and Denmark with the aim of urging the governments of those countries to take serious, concrete stances and ensure an end to the crimes the Assad regime and Russian forces are committing in Idlib and northern rural Hama.
Coordinator of the Department, Abdel Ahad Steifo, said that the discussions were focused on the need for serious international action to establish a ceasefire and protect civilians in northwestern Syria.
Steifo pointed out that the Assad regime and Russia's deliberate targeting of vital civilian centers is aimed at forcing Syrian civilians to surrender or leave their homes. He stressed that these attacks constituted war crimes under the international law and the international humanitarian law.
Steifo also stressed the importance of the resumption of humanitarian and medical aid to civilians in the region and not to allow the Assad regime and Russia to put more pressure on civilians and rebel fighters alike.
Moreover, Steifo warned of the impact of the situation in Idlib on the political process and the launch of the Constitutional Committee. He underscored the need to uphold international resolutions, noting that the Assad regime and Russia’s insistence on a bloody military solution outside the framework of the UN resolutions would undermine the credibility of the United Nations.
The Department also held telephone conversations with EU officials during which it highlighted the dire situation of the IDPs resulting from the ruthless bombardment and shelling by the Assad regime and Russian forces.
Steifo stressed that “there is no Idlib after Idlib,” as he warned of new mass waves of refugees, especially as the province of Idlib is home to around four million people. (Source: Syrian National Coalition’s Media Department)