The Syrian Opposition Coalition’s (SOC) Caesar Act Follow-up Team held its first virtual meeting with members of the Office of the Special Representative for Syrian Affairs at the US State Department and thoroughly discussed the upcoming steps that will begin next month to implement the Act so as to contribute to ending the nine-year conflict between the Syrian people and the Assad regime and bringing about a democratic transition in Syria.
SOC’s members stressed the importance of cooperation between the SOC and the US Administration in order to ensure full implementation of the Caesar Act, including the issues of accountability and transitional justice. They expressed their hope that this meeting would be the beginning of a series of periodic meetings, partnerships, and coordination between the two sides to fully achieve the goals of the Act, most importantly to put an end to the suffering of the Syrian people and the violent crackdown they have been subjected to.
SOC’s members pointed out that implementing this broad Act will require a lot of work and effort, noting that the SOC’s Follow-up Team is made up of members working with various Syrian bodies, such as the Syrian communities in the diaspora, political parties, unions, and civil society organizations.
Putting the Act into effect will also require enormous efforts from all spectra of the Syrian people, opposition institutions, and forces of the revolution, the SOC’s members said, adding that the SOC’s Follow-up Team will draw up a plan for coordination and cooperation with the relevant Syrian actors.
The Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act focuses on two main elements: the imposition of sanctions on the Assad regime and its backers, and holding to account perpetrators of war crimes in Syria. (Source: SOC’s Media Department
The Syrian Interim Government’s Ministry of Interior announced the names of the candidates it approved for recruitment into the police and public security forces in the towns of Tal Abyad in Raqqa province and Ras al-Ayn in Hasaka province.
The Ministry indicated that the candidates were approved after they passed medical, physical fitness, and written tests they took on February 21, 2020, adding that the training course was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Ministry published the list of approved candidates on SIG’s website, noting that those who were approved should take a 10-day training course that will be held in the liberated areas.
The Ministry asked the approved candidates residing in the Tal Abyad region to be present outside the police headquarters in the town of Tal Abyad on Sunday May 31, 2020 at nine in the morning. It pointed out that the approved candidates who reside in Turkey must be present at the Tal Abyad border crossing on the same day. (Source: SOC’s Media Department)
The General Director of Wheat Mills of the Syrian Interim Government, Youssef Al-Khamis, said that the General Wheat Mills Company has been securing, setting up and operating new wheat mills as well as operating old ones in the liberated areas. He pointed out that the Company has been communicating with the donors to secure the production requirements in accordance with the needs of every region, adding that the Company is also assigning technical specialized staff to operate the wheat mills.
The company produces and distributes flour to bakeries in the liberated areas in coordination with local councils. It uses the wheat purchased directly from the local farmers and mixes it with the imported wheat which is provided by donors when available.
Al-Khamis pointed out that the company’s mills and the private ones it signed contracts with have so far produced 130,000 tons of flour using local wheat and the wheat which was provided by the Syria Recovery Trust Fund (SRTF).
The Company received 35,000 tons of flour provided by the Turkish people and government in 2016 and 2017. It distributed flour to public and private bakeries via its wheat mills as well as the storage and distribution centers in Aleppo, Idlib, Lattakia and Homs provinces in coordination with the provincial and local councils.
Al-Khamis went on to say that the Company produced 17,600 tons of flour in 2019, which was distributed to public and private bakeries in the regions of Atarib, Azaz, Al-Bab and Jarablus in coordination with the local councils.
He pointed out that the company lost a number of its wheat mills in the regions that fell to the Assad regime forces, adding that the mill in Al-Atarib has recently stopped working due to the intense bombing by the regime and Russian forces. He noted that the operational mills are now located in Azaz, Ayn al-Bayda and Baza’a in rural Aleppo.
Al-Khamis said that the company is facing many difficulties, most notably the severe shortages in wheat due to the lack of adequate funding for the purchase of locally produced wheat as well as the high cost of bread production due to the recent collapse of the Syrian pound against the US dollar.
The difficulties also include the shortages in production requirements, especially fuel, Al-Khamis said. He noted that the cost of baking one ton of flour reached $125 USD, which increases the price of bread for citizens in the liberated areas, the majority of whom do not have any source of living. The lack of funding to purchase local wheat will cause the farmers to refrain from growing wheat, which risks causing shortages of wheat.
The Company is seeking to purchase locally grown wheat in order to support farmers and ensure that they continue to grow crops. It is seeking to import wheat when the local produce does not suffice its needs as well as to secure mills, bakeries, and other production requirements in coordination with the relief aid groups and other relevant organizations.
The General Wheat Mills Company is one of the companies of the Syrian Public Establishment for Grain (SPEG) which is affiliated with SIG’s Ministry of Finance and Economy. It was created under resolution No. 16 of May 15, 2014. (Source: SOC’s Media Department)
President of the Syrian National Coalition, Anas Abdah, congratulated the Syrian people on the occasion of Eid Al-Fitr.
In a televised speech, President Abdah pointed out that “Eid comes while the Syrian people are going through enormous suffering.
“While the pillars of the regime are fighting over the billions they stole from the Syrian people, the ordinary Syrians can hardly afford a pack of bread for their children.
For decades, this family has been stealing the Syrian people’s sources of livelihoods.”
President Abdah added: “Every additional day in the life of this regime means that the Syrian people will pay a double price. I do not mean those who revolted only, but also the regime’s loyalists.”
“The corrupt regime is directly responsible for the crimes, massacres, mass displacement, arrests, and torture against the Syrian people. It is also to blame for the rampant corruption that led to successive economic disasters for more than half a century,” he added.
President Abdah also said that “today, after the sanctions have hard hit the pillars of the regime and the symbols of corruption, the internal conflict has come to the surface in a way that indicates the extent of decay and degeneration of the regime’s internal structure, a regime that is based on oppression, terrorism, oppression, and corruption.
This rift at the heart of the regime came as a result of a variety of factors and changes. There are important developments in the near future.”
He went on: “No one in Syria, including the regime's loyalists, can no longer imagine that the status quo can continues any further. Everyone has become convinced that the regime has reached its inevitable end.”
He said that the Syrian Coalition set up a working group to follow the implementation of Caesar Act, especially as this law represents a means of pressure not only on the regime, but also on all countries and parties supporting it.
“We are currently working with Syrian communities in the diaspora to urge the European Union to adopt a similar act ratcheting up pressure on the regime and its backers.”
“Our political stances will remain committed to the principles and goals of the revolution. We also support every opportunity to end the bloodshed and stop the cycle of killing and destruction.”
President Abdah went on to say that “the measures being taken by the Syrian Coalition in cooperation with the Syrian Interim Government to prevent an outbreak of the coronavirus have so far proved effective and successful.”
“I thank everyone who contributed to this success, including individuals, organizations, and official institutions, especially the Ministry of Health, the Assistance Coordination Unit, and medical organizations working on the ground. I also thank the Syrian civil society organizations as well as the international organizations and parties that helped us.”
He said that “thanks to your resilience and support, the Syrian revolution has passed a very critical juncture following an organized assault by the alliance of evil.”
With regards to the issue of detainees, he said: “Our efforts with regards to the issue of detainees will not stop until all of them are released, redressed and the criminals held accountable.
We are working on this issue with the highest sense of responsibility, having launched an international campaign to force the regime to release the detainees amid fears of the coronavirus pandemic.” (Source: SOC’s Media Department)
President of the Syrian National Coalition, Anas Abdah, said that the goal of co-opting representatives of the Syrian Tribal Council and the Association of Kurdish Independents is to inject new blood into the Coalition and increase its strength and efficiency.
In an interview with Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed newspaper, President Abdah pointed to the important role of Syrian tribes in the history of Syria in general and in the Syrian revolution in particular. He said that these tribes embraced the forces of the revolution in resisting the Assad regime, its allied, militias and ISIS.
President Abdah pointed out that the Association of Kurdish Independents “is our partner in the revolution and the national line. We are happy to have them joining us in the Syrian Coalition which will allow them to expand their national role through the Syrian Coalition’s institutions.”
With regards to the intra-Kurdish dialogue being sponsored by international parties, President Abdah said: “The only guideline of the Syrian Coalition is the principles of the Syrian revolution. We believe in dialogue to reach a solution that brings an end to the suffering of our people with all its components, provided that this solution corresponds with the fundamental principles of the revolution, namely to build a free, civil, and democratic state for all citizens in which murderers and terrorists have no place.”
“Among the most important conditions for the success of the dialogue, which was also adopted by the Kurdish National Council, is standing on the side of the Syrian revolution, severing all ties with the regime, and dissociating from the terrorist Qandil organization at the political, military, security and financial levels, in addition to forcing non-Syrian elements from the PYD-held regions, emphasizing good, neighborly relations and non-interference in the affairs of neighboring countries, considering the Kurdish issue a Syrian national issue that should be exclusively resolved in Syria.”
President Abdah talked about the situation in Idlib and the ceasefire agreement. He stressed that “this file is one of our top priorities,” adding that the Syrian Coalition "is closely following the issue along with the Turkish brothers who still commit to their previous pledges.” He pointed out that the current ceasefire saw the fewest violations on the part of the regime despite its track record of disrespect for all agreements and truces.”
“We are fully prepared for all scenarios,” President Abdah said. He thanked Turkey for its great role in safeguarding the agreement and for providing the necessary support for the return of people to their towns and villages.”
“Tens of thousands of civilians have already returned to their homes due to the relative calm that followed the latest ceasefire. We are working to enable the rest of IDP to return to their homes in cooperation with the Turkish side. In addition, the Syrian Interim Government is doing lots of action to this end despite the scarce resources.”
President Abdah stressed the need to enable all the IDP to return to their areas as he rejected the displacement of people or forcing them to move to other places as this serves the regime's policy of demographic change, which it pursued in most Syrian regions.”
“Our number one priority is the return of all IDP to their towns and villages and to ensure a safe and suitable environment for them to live in.” (Source: SOC’s Media Department)
Head of the Syrian Interim Government (SIG), Abdurrahman Mustafa, on Tuesday talked via video link with Joel Rayburn, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Levant Affairs and Special Envoy for Syria in the US State Department and discussed with him the situation in the liberated areas, especially the efforts to prevent an outbreak of the coronavirus.
The virtual meeting brought together SIG’s Defense Ministers, Major General, Salim Idris, Minister of Local Administration and Services, Muhammad Suleiman, SIG’s Director of Foreign Relations, Yasser Al-Hajji, and Political Chief at the US Syria Transition Assistance Response Team (START) Zahra Bell.
Mustafa said that SIG took several measures to prevent an outbreak of the virus in the liberated areas, most notably closure of crossing points with the regime-held areas, shifting to online education, sustained tests of the suspected cases, the establishment of quarantine centers, sterilization of public facilities, and the launch of awareness-raising campaigns.
He pointed out that SIG developed several service projects in the areas of health, education, security, and the judiciary and is seeking to open new institutions in line with its plans to consolidate civil administration and good governance in the liberated areas. He stressed the need to empower SIG and support the new projects.
The two sides discussed the economic situation in the liberated areas, especially the collapse of the Syrian pound and its impact on citizens. Mustafa pointed to the Assad regime's attempts to acquire foreign currency from those areas and exploit them with the aim of circumventing the sanctions imposed on it.
The two sides also stressed the need to protect citizens from the fallout of the depreciation of the Syrian pound and the possible ways to mitigate its effects.
For his part, Mr. Rayburn stressed the importance of continued communication and consultations between the two sides, improving security and stability in the liberated areas, and strengthening the relations with SIG. (Source: SOC’s Media Department)
A delegation from the Syrian National Coalition visited Al-Sadaqa IDP camp in rural Idlib in which a massive fire broke out two days ago causing severe damage to tents and service facilities.
The delegation included Coordinator of the Coalition’s office in rural Aleppo, Ahmed al-Shehadi, and member of the Coalition Najib Rahmoun.
The delegation met the affected households which were left without shelter as it ascertained their health conditions and recorded a list of their basic needs.
The Coalition provided relief assistance to the affected households. It also reached out to donors to rebuild tents and services facilities as soon as possible.
The delegation also visited other IDP camps in northern rural Aleppo to ascertain the conditions of their residents. It provided wheelchairs to people with disabilities. (Source: SOC’s Media Department)
The Syrian National Coalition warned the international community of the dangers of the regime’s attempts to exploit international conditions to unleash a new brutal campaign in southern Syria. It reaffirmed it stands by the people of Dara’a in the face of the Assad regime forces.
In a press release issued on Friday, the Coalition stressed that the regime’s military-up in the south and its sending of Iranian militias to the region is an extremely dangerous escalation.”
The Coalition called upon the international community to take firm, urgent measures to deter the regime’s plans against Dara’a and to prevent chaos and the deterioration of the situation in the region.
The Coalition expressed its confidence in the wisdom of the Dara’a notables and its civil bodies. It reaffirmed that it stands by them as it warns of the regime’s attempts to violate understandings whenever the opportunity arises.
“The pretexts the regime is making are all rejected as it is the first to sow chaos, destruction, arrest, displacement and breach of agreements.”
The Coalition added: “The Dara’a demonstrations came to reaffirm that the spirit of the revolution is still alive in the hearts and minds of the Syrian people; that their love for freedom and dignity will continue; and that the goals of their revolution will be achieved.” (Source: SOC’s Media Department)
The Ministry of Health of the Syrian Interim Government reiterated that no cases of coronavirus have so far been detected in the liberated areas after it conducted 22 tests for suspected cases on Friday.
The Minister of Health in the Syrian Interim Government, Maram Al-Sheikh, said that the ministry continues to conduct tests on suspicious cases in the freed territories. He pointed out that Ministry has so far run 642 tests for the pandemic as of May 15, adding that all the suspected cases tested negative for the virus.
He pointed out that the Ministry, in cooperation with other SIG ministries, continues to take precautionary measures to prevent an outbreak of the coronavirus in the liberated areas. It has also launched awareness-raising campaigns on ways of prevention in northwestern Syria, especially in the IDP camps. (Source: SOC’s Media Department)
The Syrian National Coalition’s Strategic Consulting Office held an online panel discussion on the next stage in Syria and the anticipated change in the country with the participation of former Special Envoy of the Netherlands to Syria, Nikolaos van Dam.
Keynote speakers in the discussion, which was moderated by Head of the Strategic Consulting Office, Ahmed Ramadan, included members of the Syrian Coalition, experts and researchers in the political and strategic fields.
The discussion was held under the title ‘Syria and the anticipated change in accordance with international policies.’ The former Dutch envoy and orientalist talked about the plight of the Assad regime and the internal rifts that have dramatically climaxed in recent weeks. He stressed that the regime continues to commit crimes against the Syrian people without any form of deterrence only to cling to power.
Van Dam pointed to the role of Russia and Iran in aiding and abetting the regime’s crimes against the Syrian people and in shielding it internationally by blocking action on the UN Security Council and preventing it from taking any decision to condemn the regime and hold it accountable. He pointed out that Russian and Iran now have total control over key state institutions in Syria and dictate its decisions.
He touched on the international calls for change in Syria, ending the suffering of the Syrian people, stopping crimes against civilians, and releasing detainees. He also talked about the importance of the latest report by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which confirmed the regime’s responsibility for three chemical weapons attacks on the town of Latamina in rural Hama and about the Caesar Act.
Furthermore, Van Dam stressed that a political solution was possible several years ago, adding that the regime is to blame for the stalled political process. He stressed that a political solution through the United Nations and the enforcement of international resolutions, most importantly UN Security Council resolution 2254, is the only way to put an end to the conflict in Syria and ending the bloodshed that has been ongoing for nine years. (Source: SOC’s Media Department)