Fake companies in Jordan buy land in occupied West Bank for Jewish settlers

Image of the Amona outpost in occupied West Bank [יעקב / Wikipedia]

Image of the Amona outpost in occupied West Bank

A local official revealed on Tuesday that a network of fake companies based in Jordan has been established in order to buy Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank for Jewish settlers, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed has reported. The settlers, it is claimed, are from the settlement of Amona, which Israel also regarded as illegal; and evacuated earlier this year.

According to the neighbourhood head in Silwad, located to the east of Ramallah, a Jordanian MP is involved. Abdul-Rahman Saleh added that these companies pay high prices for the land, up to 60,000 Jordanian Dinars for each dunam (quarter of an acre), whereas the market rate would be around 2,000 Dinars. Saleh said that some of the Palestinians travelled to Jordan to be paid the money.

After a review of the companies in question, he explained, they denied that they are buying land for Israeli settlers. However, he stressed that they have a history of buying real estate in Jerusalem on behalf of Israelis.

Read: Amona alternative is not new settlement, Netanyahu claims

Saleh named these allegedly fake firms as Watan Company, Waheeb Company and the Holy Land Company; they are, he claimed, run by Palestinians and Jordanians, including a Jordanian MP.

The Palestinian official revealed that an attempt by Watan Company to buy land in Silwad was unsuccessful, even though the company offered $500,000 to the owner. He warned that if a single dunam was sold to the Israeli settlers from Amona, this would enable them to go back to the area and rebuild the settlement. He insisted that the evacuated settlers have been trying to return and rebuild it.

#AmonaSettlement

Saleh pointed out that his municipality had cooperated with a number of organisations to spread awareness of the danger of Israeli measures in the area. He is in constant touch with the PA security services on this issue. He also revealed that the Israeli settlers tried to seize some land near the Amona site under the pretext of Israel’s Absentee Law, but failed.

(Source / 09.08.2017)

15 Palestinians injured, 5 detained during Israeli raid on Kobar

15 Palestinians injured raid Kobar

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Fifteen Palestinians were injured with live and rubber-coated steel bullets while tens of others suffered from severe tear gas inhalation during clashes with Israeli forces that erupted before dawn on Wednesday in the village of Kobar, northeast of Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank.Israeli forces raided Kobar and closed the two main entrances to the village with dirt mounds and rocks, and installed flying checkpoints, preventing Palestinians from leaving or entering the village, according to locals.Clashes erupted between Israeli forces and Palestinian youth who attempted to prevent Israeli soldiers from raiding the house of Palestinian prisoner Omar al-Abed, 19, who was detained last month after he stabbed and killed three Israeli settlers from the nearby illegal Halamish settlement.Locals told Ma’an that Israeli forces “assaulted the youths,” raided and ransacked al-Abed’s house, damaged the furniture, and detained the teenager’s father and uncle.Witnesses added that Israeli forces heavily fired live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, sound bombs and tear gas at youths who threw rocks at soldiers.Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances transferred the injured Palestinian youths to Ramallah-area hospitals through a road of the neighboring village of Burham.During the clashes, Israeli forces detained three Palestinians, identified by locals as Yasser al-Abed, Basil al-Fahed, and Muhannad Shalash.Locals told Ma’an that Israeli forces have been imposing near-constant closures on the village ever since al-Abed carried out the stabbing attack last month.Since the attack, Israeli forces have kept the two main entrances closed, despite locals saying that they have repeatedly removed the dirt mounds and rocks used to block the roads.An Israeli army spokesperson only confirmed two detentions from Kobar, and said they would look into reports of the clashes.Israeli forces have routinely been criticized by Palestinian leaders and rights groups for the use of “excessive force” and live ammunition during raids and clashes with Palestinians, during incidents that did not warrant a violent response.

In the wake of the Halamish stabbing, Israeli forces imposed a series of punitive measures on the family of the attacker, 19-year-old Omar al-Abed, and the residents of Kobar, temporarily sealing the village, detaining the al-Abed’s brother and mother, and raiding the local health clinic.
The Israeli government has long faced criticism for its response to attacks, with rights groups saying severe security measures amount to collective punishment and a violation of international law.

(Source / 09.08.2017)

‘The Palestine exception’: War on BDS is now a war on American democracy

BDS vs VS democracy

By: Ramzy Baroud

Ramzy Baroud is an internationally syndicated columnist, author, and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story.

 There is something immoral in Washington DC, and its consequences can be dire for many people, particularly for the health of US democracy.
The US government is declaring war on the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The fight to defeat BDS has been ongoing for several years, but most notably since 2014.
Since then, 11 US states have passed and enacted legislation to criminalize the movement, backed by civil society, which aims to put pressure on Israel to end its occupation of Palestine.
Washington is now leading the fight, thus legitimizing the anti-democratic behavior of individual states. If the efforts of the US government are successful, an already struggling US democracy will take yet another step back, and many good people could potentially be punished for behaving in accordance with their political and moral values.
Senate Bill 720 (S.720), also known as the Anti-Israel Boycott Act, was largely drafted by the notorious and powerful Israel lobby in Washington, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
According to its own “2017 Lobbying Agenda,” AIPAC has made the passing of the bill its top priority.
The US Congress is beholden by Israel’s interests and by the “stranglehold” of AIPAC over the elected representatives of the American people.
Thus, it was no surprise to see 43 senators and 234 House representatives backing the bill, which was first introduced in March.
Although the Congress has habitually backed Israel and condemned Palestinians — and any politician or entity that dared recognize Palestinian rights — this time, the Congress is going too far and is jeopardizing the very basic rights of its own constituencies.
The First Amendment to the US Constitution has been the pillar in defense of people’s right to free speech, freedom of the press, “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” This right, however, has often been curtailed when it applies to Israel. The Center for Constitutional Rights refers to this fact as “The Palestine Exception.”
S.720, however, if it passes, will cement the new US status, that of “flawed democracy” as opposed to a full democratic nation that legislates and applies all laws fairly and equally to all of its citizens. The law would make it a “felony” for Americans to support the boycott of Israel.
Punishment of those who violate the proposed law ranges from $250,000 to $1 million, and/or 20 years in prison.
The bill has already had chilling effects on many groups in the country, especially among African-American activists who are fighting institutionalized racism. If the bill becomes law, the precedent will become the norm, and dissidents will find themselves standing trial for their mere opinions.
With regard to Israel, the US Congress is united. Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers often act in ways contrary to the interests of their own country, just to appease the Israeli government. This is no secret.
However, the real danger is that such laws go beyond the traditional blind allegiance to Israel — into a whole level of acquiescence, where the government punishes people and organizations for the choices they make, the values they hold dear or the mere inquiry of information about an issue that they may find compelling.
On July 17, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) issued a letter calling on lawmakers who signed the Senate version of the bill to reconsider.
“The bill would punish businesses and individuals, based solely on their point of view. Such a penalty is in direct violation of the First Amendment,” ACLU stated.
Only one person, thus far, has reportedly reconsidered her support, junior Democratic Senator from New York Kirsten Gillibrand. She requested for her name to be removed from the list of co-signatories.
AIPAC’s reaction was immediate, calling on its army of supporters to pressure the senator to reinstate her name on the list and to “reaffirm her commitment to fighting the international delegitimization of Israel.”
Dire as it may seem, there is something positive in this. For many years, it has been wrongly perceived that Israel’s solicitation of American support against Palestinians and Arabs was, by no means, a foreign country meddling or interfering in the US political system or undermining US democracy.
The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, however, is the most egregious of such interventions, for it strikes down the First Amendment, the very foundation of American democracy, by using America’s own lawmakers to carry out the terrible deed.
This bill exposes Israel, as well as its hordes of supporters, in Congress. Moreover, it presents human rights defenders with the opportunity to champion BDS, thus the rights of the Palestinian people and also the rights of all Americans. It would be the first time in many years that the battle for Palestinian rights can be openly discussed and contextualized in a way that most Americans find relevant to their everyday life.
Actually, this was one of the aims of BDS, from the start. While the boycott and delegitimization of the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinians is at the core of the civil society-backed movement, BDS also aims at generating an urgent discussion on Israel and Palestine.
Although inadvertently, the Congress is now making this very much possible.
The bill, and the larger legislative efforts across the US — and Europe — are also a source of hope in the sense that it is recreating the very events that preceded the demise of the apartheid regime in South Africa.
The US and British governments in particular opposed the South African liberation movement, condemned the boycott and backed the racist authoritarian role of P. W. Botha to the very end. Former US President Ronald Reagan perceived Nelson Mandela to be a terrorist. Mandela was not removed from the US terror list until 2008.
It is quite telling that the US, UK, and Israel were the most ardent supporters of South Africa’s apartheid.
Now, it is as if history is repeating itself. The Israeli version of apartheid is fighting for legitimacy and refuses to concede. It wants to colonize all of Palestine, mistreat its people and violate international law without a mere word of censure from an individual or an organization.
The US government has not changed much, either. It carries on supporting the Israeli form of apartheid, while shamelessly paying lip service to the legacy of Mandela and his anti-apartheid struggle.
Although the new chapter of the anti-apartheid struggle is called “Palestine,” the US and its western backers continue to repeat the same costly policies they committed against the South African people.
As for true champions of human rights, regardless of their race, religion or citizenship, this is their moment. No meaningful change ever occurs without people being united in struggle and sacrifice.
In one of his speeches, American abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass said: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
The US Congress, with the help of AIPAC, is criminalizing this very demand of justice.
Americans should not stand for this, if not for the sake of Palestinians, then for their own sake.

(Source / 09.08.2017)

Palestinian Journalists Syndicate demands PA release journalists from jail

Pal Press

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS) released a statement on Wednesday demanding the release of five Palestinian journalists who were detained by Palestinian security forces on Tuesday night, and called their arrests a “dangerous assault against freedom of expression.”

According to Palestinian news agency Wafa, the five Palestinian journalists — identified as Mamdouh Hamamreh, Tareq Abu Zeid, Amer Abu Arafeh, Ahmad Halaiqa, and Qutaybeh Salem — were detained by Palestinian security forces for leaking “sensitive information to hostile parties.”
In their statement, PJS condemned the arrests, saying that the move was “an organized attack against the freedom of journalism,” and a “dangerous assault against freedom of expression and opinion.”
PJS called for the immediate release of the five journalists and held the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA), responsible on the security and political level for the arrests.
Journalists and the media should be removed from any political steps made by both parties — the Fatah-led PA and Hamas — in the West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip, the statement said.
Both the PA and the Hamas movement, the de facto leaders in Gaza, have been accused of retaliatory and politically motivated arrests in both territories, as the more than a decade-long conflict between the two groups escalated in recent months.
The syndicate reminded the PA of the Palestinian journalist and correspondent for the PA-run Palestine TV Fouad Jaradeh, who has been imprisoned by Hamas in Gaza for more than two months.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) also condemned the journalists’ arrests in a statement, saying that the arrests are “part of a marked escalation of violations against media freedoms and a blatant violation of the Palestinian Basic Law, which protects freedom of expression and the press.”
MADA also called on the Palestinian security services to release all Palestinian journalists held in jails in the West Bank and Gaza and to “stop the policy of arresting journalists, and keep these journalists far from the internal political division and their internal frictions.”

(Source / 09.08.2017)

Israeli settlers launch march to Abu Rajab family home in Hebron’s Old City

Settlers in march

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Hundreds of Israeli settlers originating from France launched a march on Wednesday afternoon toward the Abu Rajab home in Hebron’s Old City, which was forcibly taken over by settlers some two weeks ago, to reportedly show solidarity with the settlers.

The march was set off from an illegal settlement post on al-Shuhada Street and the Tel Rumeida neighborhood in the Old City, and stormed to the Abu Rajab family home, as the settlers waved Israeli flags.
Locals told Ma’an that the march was a way for the Israeli settlers to “confirm their control” over the building, despite even the Israeli Civil Administration deciding that the settlers’ alleged purchase of the property was in fact invalid.
Residents of the Abu Rajab house have been embroiled in a legal battle with Israeli settlers for years, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared his intention to encourage the establishment of a new illegal Israeli settlement there to be named Beit Hamachpela.
However, Israeli authorities have not granted permission to establish the settlement on the grounds that the settlers have failed to prove their alleged purchase of the Palestinian house, as the Palestinians have accused the settlers of forging the documents.
Meanwhile, Hebrew media reported that the march was organized by a right-wing organization called “Israel forever,” which focuses on showing French solidarity with the Israeli settlers residing  illegally in Hebron.
The march in Hebron’s Old City came just a day following reports that the family had filed a petition with the Israeli Supreme Court to evacuate the settlers from their home. According to Israeli daily Haaretz, the petition is aimed at urging Israeli authorities to force the settlers out, which the family was successfully able to do when settlers also took over their home in 2012 after alleging that they had purchased the property.
While the Israeli army has declared the building a “closed military zone,” an order which should bar any individuals from entering the area, Israeli settlers have continued to enter and exit the building freely.
According to Haaretz, Israeli authorities have been negotiating a “possible voluntary eviction with the settlers,” while Israeli Supreme Court Justice Neal Hendel has ordered that the Israeli state respond to the family’s petition by August 16.
Located in the center of Hebron — one of the largest cities in the occupied West Bank — the Old City was divided into Palestinian and Israeli-controlled areas, known as H1 and H2, following the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre.
Some 6,500 Palestinians and 800 notoriously aggressive Israeli settlers live in the Old City of Hebron, according to a 2016 report by legal rights NGO BADIL.
Palestinian residents of the Old City face a large Israeli military presence on a daily basis, with at least 32 permanent and partial checkpoints set up at the entrances of many streets.
Additionally, Palestinians are not allowed to drive on al-Shuhada street, have had their homes and shops on the street welded shut, and in some areas of the Old City, are not permitted to walk on certain roads.
Meanwhile, Israeli settlers move freely on the street, drive cars, and carry machine guns.

(Source / 09.08.2017)

Israeli police, settlers defile 3rd holiest site in Islam

Zios police and settlers in al-Aqsa

Israeli police troops and special forces cordoned off the plazas of holy al-Aqsa Mosque on Wednesday morning, triggering tension at and around the site.

Israeli policemen closed off al-Aqsa’s gate of al-Maghareba shortly after dozens of Israeli settlers broke into the site as part of the morning break-in shift.

According to eye-witnesses, at least 66 Israeli settlers stormed al-Aqsa—Muslims’ third holiest site—and attended lectures on the history of the alleged temple mount.

(Source / 09.08.2017)

7,000 employees in Gaza forced into early retirement

7000 Gaza retirement

Head of Retirement Authority at the Palestinian Authority (PA) government, Majed al-Helo, announced on Wednesday that 7,000 civil employees in the Gaza Strip were referred to early retirement in August.

In statements to Voice of Palestine radio, Helo said that these employees were forced into early retirement because they work in ministries run by the government administrative committee formed by Hamas in Gaza.

He explained that the targeted employees received 40 to 70% of their salaries in accordance with standards set by the PA government’s Council of Ministers.

Head of the government administrative committee in Gaza, Abdulsalam Siam, two days ago announced a “plan” to address the repercussions of possible enforced retirement decisions waged by the PA president Mahmoud Abbas against the PA employees in the Gaza Strip.

Siam said that the number of the PA civil servants currently employed in Gaza is 11,000, 95% of whom are in the ministries of Health and Education.

The PA government, led by Rami Hamdallah, issued in July a decision targeting more than 6,000 PA employees in Gaza for early retirement. Most of these employees work in the health and education sectors.

In April, Abbas launched a series of punitive measures against the Gaza Strip targeting all aspects of life in the coastal enclave, and two days ago, he pledged to take even more similar measures.

(Source / 09.08.2017)

Dozens arrested in West Bank sweep by Israeli army

Pal kidnapped Azzoun

Several Palestinians were kidnapped by the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) in abduction sweeps rocking West Bank provinces at daybreak Wednesday.

The IOF stormed Qalqilya’s eastern town of Azzoun, in the northern West Bank, and wreaked havoc on over 15 Palestinian homes, before they kidnapped eight civilians.

The IOF also broke into Bethlehem, in the southern occupied West Bank, and kidnapped eight Palestinians, among them three 15-year-old minors from al-Amour family.

At the same time, two Palestinian ex-prisoners—Mohamed Qat and Quteiba Azem—were kidnapped by the IOF from their family homes in Nablus.

Fierce clashes burst out between the Israeli occupation troops and Palestinian protesters in Sufian Street and AlShuhadaa, in al-Khalil.

Seven Palestinians were kidnapped by the IOF from the city, among them the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Badran Jaber, 70.

The Israeli army troops ravaged civilian homes in al-Khalil, sparking tension across the city, according to anti-settlement activist Rateb al-Jabour.

(Source / 09.08.2017)

Dahlan muscles his way into Gaza with UAE money

Dismissed senior Fatah member Mohammed Dahlan video conferences from the United Arab Emirates with Hamas members of the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza City, July 27, 2017

There has been a lot of talk lately about the possibility of a “social reconciliation” to bring to a close the societal ruptures caused by the 2007 killings stemming from Hamas and Fatah’s battle for control over Gaza. The idea was a focal point of Egyptian-brokered agreements concluded in June between Hamas and dismissed senior Fatah member Mohammed Dahlan. The reconciliation would involve compensation being paid to those injured and the families of those killed.

Dahlan spoke about his reconciliation with Hamas on July 27 from the United Arab Emirates via a video conference during a meeting of Hamas Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) members and PLC members loyal to Dahlan. He said that the consultations to reach understandings between him and Hamas will return hope to the people of Gaza and alleviate some of their suffering, claiming they have already begun to bear fruit. A source close to Dahlan, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed to Al-Monitor that by “fruit” Dahlan was referring to a social reconciliation.

A social rapprochement, should it transpire, would definitively conclude this bloody chapter of the Palestinian conflict, during which hundreds were killed June 10-15, 2007, in violent clashes between Fatah and Hamas militants. That event — which Fatah characterizes as a coup and Hamas describes as a decisive military action — has been an open wound.

Ismail Radwan, Hamas’ current representative to the Social Reconciliation Committee, told Al-Monitor, “Hamas sees that bereaved families have been very responsive [to the efforts] to bring about reconciliation and restore national unity. They have been a great example of forgiveness. The movement [wants] a broad national reconciliation in the upcoming period and has the desire and determination to close this dossier once and for all. The committee will embark on turning the page on the dossier related to victims’ compensation in the upcoming days.”

The Social Reconciliation Committee was established following the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement of 2011, with all the Palestinian factions taking part. Its activities were frozen, however, due to Hamas and Fatah’s ongoing estrangement. The committee, or a version of it in Gaza, was reactivated by the Hamas-Dahlan understandings.

Al-Monitor learned from sources on the Social Reconciliation Committee that the majority of bereaved families have agreed to accept compensation and end the dispute in exchange for pardoning those who took part in the killings. A pardon would involve prisoners being released, while the families of victims will accept compensation and provide a written pledge not to seek revenge against those who killed their relatives. While some have not yet responded, no more than five have rejected the settlement so far, on the grounds that justice should be served separately from any financial compensation.

The committee will distribute compensation payments in the next few weeks, in a public presentation, once the funds arrive from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which is underwriting the effort. After that, it will declare the end of the dispute.

Imad Mohsen, media spokesman for the Democratic Reformist Current, Dahlan’s breakaway Fatah movement active in Gaza, told Al-Monitor, “In the next few weeks, the Social Reconciliation Committee will discuss the disbursement mechanism with human rights organizations, judges and tribal elders. The bereaved families, which total 700, have been very receptive. Among [those killed], we count 380 families for Fatah, 320 for Hamas and 800 injuries on both sides. A sum of $50,000 will be paid to each [deceased] victim’s family, while the injured will obtain a smaller amount that is yet to be determined. The financial compensation fund now includes $50 million from the UAE.”

Omar Karout, board member of Hemaya Center for Human Rights in Gaza, told Al-Monitor, “The social reconciliation is based on family and tribal agreements and does not go against human rights principles and fair trials. The victims fell in political and factional conflicts, not in family conflicts. As a human rights institution, we are in favor of this move, as it would turn a sad page in Palestinian history, especially in Gaza.”

The Social Reconciliation Committee, which has called on the rest of the factions to join its ranks, met for the first time July 23, in Gaza, in the presence of representatives from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Dahlan’s current, al-Saiqa, the Palestinian National Initiative, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) and the Popular Resistance Movement. Palestinian Authority President and Fatah Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Fatah did not participate in the meeting. The committee met again July 29 to form subcommittees in the five Gaza governorates — Rafah, Khan Yunis, Deir al-Balah, Gaza and North Gaza — and chose as its chairman Khodr Habib of Islamic Jihad.

Speaking to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, a Fatah Central Committee member said, “The Social Reconciliation Committee’s meeting that took place in Gaza is the product of deals serving common Hamas-Dahlan interests, and is not the product of political understandings. As a national movement, Fatah is removed from [these deals] and does not recognize them. It is unacceptable to undermine the families’ rights in exchange for money entering Gaza for political purposes, in light of the Palestinians’ need for it. The deep wounds need to be healed through the judiciary, and the PA needs to be at the heart of any settlement, rather than being excluded from it.”

Mumin Bsiso, a political analyst, told Al-Monitor, “It is no secret that enmity and hatred marked Hamas-Dahlan ties prior to the 2007 split. This phase was plagued by killings, bloodshed and destruction of property. Previously, Dahlan and his supporters had accused Hamas of the killings during the split. This is while Hamas accused Dahlan and his faction of initiating a military coup against its constitutional legitimacy and of forming special teams to kill Hamas cadres, paving the way for its elimination from the political scene.”

He added, “It would be naive to think that turning the page on the past will take place overnight, or that social reconciliation will manage to heal the wounds and close the dossier related to the bloodshed once and for all. The problem does not reside in both parties’ leaders and cadres, but rather in the presence of a good number of furious members of both parties. There are families of victims who refuse to forgive, demand that punishments be imposed and perceive Dahlan to be an enemy who should be faced. This makes the issue high risk and open to many possibilities.”

The case of Gaza’s bereaved families is a thorny and outstanding issue between Hamas and Fatah. Many of the victims’ families run into each other on a daily basis on Gaza streets, and there is the possibility of revenge and retaliation, although no incidents have yet been recorded. Turning the page on this issue has become a pressing problem given popular pressure. If accomplished, it will have a positive impact on the rapprochement between Hamas and Dahlan. Unless all of the bereaved families agree to accept compensation, as Hamas and Dahlan wish, reconciliation is unlikely to succeed as long as Fatah is excluded. Dahlan’s speech during the PLC session in Gaza before Hamas parliament members perhaps will boost the social reconciliation effort by encouraging hesitant bereaved families to agree to compensation.

(Source / 09.08.2017)

Syrian Coalition: De-escalation Agreements Must be Reached in Parallel With Progress in Political Process

An official in the Syrian Coalition stressed that any de-escalation agreement must cover all Syrian territory, adding that such agreements must be reached in parallel with progress in the political solution to prevent the Assad regime from exploiting these agreements to achieve military gains.

Member of the Coalition’s political committee Yasser Farhan said that a comprehensive cease-fire “has always one of the Syrian people’s main demands.” He added that the Assad regime “still insists on pursuing a military solution to crush the Syrian revolution.”

Farhan pointed out that the Coalition “realizes that any cease-fire must be comprehensive and cover the entire Syrian territory to prevent the Assad regime from exploiting these agreements to re-group its forces and deploy them to attack a specific area. He pointed out that these agreements must be reached in parallel with progress in the transitional process so that disengagement lines are not turned into boundaries affecting the unity of Syria on the long run.”

Farhan reaffirmed the Coalition is keen on the success of all ceasefire agreements, but warned of localized ceasefire agreements. The fact that Russia, Assad’s staunchest ally, is the sole sponsor, guarantor, and observer of these agreements raises question about their feasibility, he added.

Moscow is trying to rehabilitee the Assad regime in the liberated areas through supporting partial, localized de-escalation agreements that are aimed at derailing the political process in Geneva, Farhan stressed. He noted that Russia is exploiting the dire humanitarian conditions of civilians in the liberated areas to force them to agree to these agreements.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department / 09.08.2017)