Friends of Syria: No Assad in Future Syria
In a statement released today, the Friends of Syria stated that, “Assad and his partners whose hands have been soaked in blood will not have any role in Syria.” Further to that the Syrian Coalition will be “the sole representative leading the opposition’s negotiation team at the Geneva 2 conference.” The Friends of Syria stated that the conference should lead to the establishment of a transitional government with full executive powers and authority over all government institutions, including armed forces, security forces, and intelligence forces. It is also incumbent for the conference to focus on agreeing on strategies, steps, and a fixed time frame for a democratic transition.
Hadi al Bahra, member of the Political Committee of the Syrian Coalition, responded that “The Syrian Coalition has submitted its vision and legal conclusions of Geneva 1 at the meeting of the Friends of Syria in London today. Mr. Ahmad al Jarba listed the conditions to attending Geneva 2 as the following:
It is important to note that William Hague, the British Foreign Minister, confirmed in a press conference today that Assad should not play any future political role in Syria, ensuring that the Syrian Coalition will continue to enjoy full British support. He also made clear that there is no solution in Syria without a role for the Syrian Coalition. (Source: Syrian Coalition)
Death Toll: 17 Today, 54 Yesterday.
Local Coordination Committees in Syria documented 54 people dead yesterday, among them three women and one child. Also, five people died in Damascus proper and rural Damascus, four in Hama, three in each of Dara’a and Idlib, and one in each of Homs and al Quneitra. (Source: Local Coordination Committees)
Air Strikes and Mortars Fall in Damascus
Regime fighter jets conducted several air strikes on Htaytat al Turkman, Dayr al Asafeer, and al Mleiha in rural Damascus injuring many people and destroying some buildings. At the same time, the Free Syrian Army repelled a regime attempt to raid the area, destroying two regime tanks. Regime forces also shelled Jaramana with heavy artillery killing one person and injuring others. A mortar shell fell near Musa bin Nusayr School in Masaken Barzah in Damascus injuring many people, some of whom are in critical condition. Regime forces renewed shelling on Muadamiyah with heavy artillery while fierce clashes took place between the Free Syrian Army and regime forces on Highway 40 in the city. Regime forces also abducted many young men from al Haqla in al Midan in Damascus. (Source: Syrian Coalition + Local Coordination Committees)
FSA Takes Control of Checkpoint in Dara’a
The Free Syrian Army took control of Abu Rwayshed Checkpoint between the cities of Dael and Tafas in rural Dara’a. Regime forces fired on civilians in the town of Inkhil in rural Dara’a killing two people and injuring others. Regime forces also shelled the eastern district of Busra al Shaam resulting in several injuries and the destruction of many homes. This happened as fierce clashes occurred between the FSA and regime forces near the Military Security Branch in Nawa.
(Source: Syrian Coalition + Local Coordination Committees)
FSA Destroys Military Convoy
The Free Syrian Army targeted a regime military convoy in al Sukhna on the road between Palmyra and Deir Ezzor killing regime soldiers, injuring others, and destroying some of their vehicles. Regime fighter jets conducted several air strikes on the area following the attack. Also, regime forces shelled Muheen in rural Homs with heavy artillery and rocket launchers killing two people and injuring others. Also, a surface to surface missile was launched by regime forces and struck al Waer killing many people; their number is unknown until now, also a number of buildings destroyed. Regime rockets also struck the outskirts of Palmyra and al Dara al Kabeera. (Source: Syrian Coalition + Local Coordination Committees)
Clashes and Shelling in Hama
Today, the Free Syrian Army clashed with regime forces at the al Hamamiyat Checkpoint in rural Hama. Regime forces shelled the town of al Hurra with heavy artillery injuring many people, some of whom are in critical condition. The town of al Hawash witnessed shelling with rocket launchers injuring many people. Also, the towns of al Haweeja, al Hwayz, and Jisr Bayt al Raas in Sahl il Ghaab in rural Hama were also targeted with shelling.
(Source: Syrian Coalition + Local Coordination Committees)
Explosives Dropped in Aleppo
Regime fighter jets dropped explosive barrels on al Sfeira in Aleppo injuring many people, some of whom are in critical condition. These air strikes occurred as cover for regime forces attempting to raid the city with hopes of regaining control. There were especially fierce clashes that occurred between the Free Syrian Army and regime forces in the southern part of the city. Regime fighter jets also targeted the outskirts of Kwayres Military Airport and the town of Dwayrina injuring many people who had to be taken to field clinics in surrounding areas. The FSA in Deir Ezzor took control of al Shoula Checkpoint. The FSA was also able to destroy Janat al Qura Checkpoint in rural Jisr al Shughoor, taking control of several regime military vehicles and ammunition.
(Source: Syrian Coalition + Local Coordination Committees)
Lebanon Slams Assad
Lebanese President Michel Suleiman said no one should criticize the self-distancing policy adopted by the Lebanese government, in response to Bashar al Assad’s remarks that Lebanon is not distancing itself from the events in Syria. Suleiman added that “the policy of neutralizing Lebanon from conflicts is a source of pride and practiced only by Lebanon.” Bashar al Assad said on Monday evening that “Lebanon does not associate itself with what is happening in Syria, but directly contributes by allowing terrorists to pass through its territory, and allows the passage of arms, which incites fighting.” Assad considers Lebanon “as his ally who contributes light the fire in Syria.” (Source: al Hayat + UBI)
EUFM: Syrian Coalition Must Attend Geneva 2
European Union Foreign Ministers stressed the importance of all sides of the Syrian conflict, including the Syrian Coalition, in attending the Geneva 2 conference. Furthermore, The Syrian Coalition should play a leading role in the negotiations.
The conference is considered the best way to find a political solution leading to the restoration of stability in Syria. This came in the ministers’ remarks released after their arrival in Luxembourg to participate in the two-day meetings. The Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt made clear that “everything we do for the benefit of Syrian refugees and efforts to destroy the chemical weapons is insufficient if not accompanied by a peace conference.” He added that “If this conference does not include all parties, there is no use for it.” He acknowledged the existence of “contacts on several levels between his country and the various Syrian opposition parties, including the opposition inside.” For his part, German Foreign Minister Guido Fastervelleh stressed the need for all parties to make every effort to bring stability and peace to Syria, saying: “From here, we support Geneva, and see it as a good initiative.” He urged all Syrian parties to attend the conference. During the meetings yesterday, ministers discussed the three parts of the Syrian crisis, including humanitarian, political, as well as the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria. The ministers stepped up their presence in the Syrian file by pumping more help to the mission in charge of dismantling the chemical weapons and intensifying their assistance to Syrian refugees. The draft final statement of the meeting said that they discussed the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, European aid to countries holding Syrian refugees and the current efforts to hold the Geneva 2 conference. The European position was clear in condemning crimes committed in the field of human rights in Syria. They called for an end to violence and the need to find a political solution. The European bloc condemned the chemical attack, which occurred in August 2013 and called on the international community to shoulder its responsibilities to confront this danger, considering it a war crime and a crime that violates international laws.
(Source: al Sharq al Awsat + Syrian Coalition)
Kerry: Assad’s Not Significant in the Chemical Weapons File
United States Secretary of State John Kerry said that “Bashar al Assad is not significant to the chemical weapons file”, adding that “there are military officials in the Assad regime, they are the ones who bear the responsibility in case any chemical weapons are hidden from inspectors.” Kerry predicted that the completion of the process will take several months. Kerry said the situation will continue as it is in Syria in if Bashar al Assad is elected for the presidency in 2014. John Kerry said that there was no need for Iran to attend the Geneva 2 conference if it did not agree on the stipulations of Geneva 1. Geneva 1 stipulates the formation of a transitional government in Syria. He reiterated his assertions that the transitional government is the only solution in Syria. British Foreign Minister, William Hague, hinted to the possibility of Iran’s participation in the Geneva 2 conference, adding that “it is important for Iran to play a more positive role, and Britain is currently using available diplomatic channels regarding Iran’s ability to influence the Assad regime.”
(Source: al Arabiya + UBI )
Brahimi: Syria Genocide Dangerous for the World
The Special Envoy for Syria to the United Nations and the Arab League, Lakhdar Brahimi, described what is happening in Syria as very dangerous for the Syrian people and the world. He confirmed that his visit to Iraq was “for consultations with the government of this friendly country about what is happening in Syria.” Nuri al Maliki said in a statement released by his office after meeting with Brahimi that military options have reached a dead end making opportunities for the likelihood of a peaceful solution more palatable. He also confirmed his country’s complete readiness “to support the UN Envoy’s efforts to achieve a reassuring political solution for all Syrians and the region.” The statement made clear that Brahimi asked Iraq’s help in convincing Bashar Al Assad to offer “concessions”. (Source: al Hayat)
Britain to Donate $25 Million For Syrian-Palestinian Refugees
The United Kingdom announced that it will provide support worth 15.5 million pounds ($25 million USD), to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to send vital aid to Palestinian refugees in Syria, as well as for those who have been forced once again to flee to neighboring countries. Minister for International Development, Alan Duncan, said that “after they fled the first time to Syria, seeking safety, now tens of thousands of Palestinians find themselves forced to leave once again in which they grew up due to the conflict, leaving behind the elements of the new life that they have struggled to build.”
(Source: al Hayat + AFP)
Saudi Arabia Will Limit Dealings with America
Saudi Intelligence Chief, Bandar bin Sultan, told European envoys that the Kingdom would limit its dealings with the United States in protest to Washington’s stance towards Syria and Iran. He explained to the European envoys that Washington failed to act effectively on the Syrian issue and the Israeli – Palestinian conflict and they converge with Iran. Also, America failed to support the Saudi Arabia’s backing of Bahrain, while Bahrain launched a crackdown on an anti-government movement in 2011.