Rahmoun: Russia Using Syria a Testing Ground for Its Weapons

Member of the Syrian Coalition’s political committee Adnan Rahmoun condemned the war crimes committed by Russia in Syria including the recent crimes carried out in Idlib and Aleppo provinces. He stressed that those remaining silent over such crimes are complicit in them.

Rahmoun said that Russia is using Syria to test new methods of warfare including the use of new weapons and training troops and mercenaries, which is all happening right under nose of the international community. The international community has not yet lifted a finger towards stopping war crimes Russia and the Assad regime have been committing in Syria, Rahmoun added.

Rahmoun called on the Russian leadership to abandon its policies towards the Syrian people and stop the state terrorism it has been practicing in Syria.

Activists said that at least 21 civilians, including women and children, were killed and over 50 others wounded in airstrikes by the Assad regime and Russian air forces on Idlib city on Wednesday. Fifteen more civilians, including children, were killed in similar attacks on the towns of Ariha, Maaret Alnouman and Maaret Misreen in rural Idlib on Wednesday.

In rural Aleppo, meanwhile, Russian airstrikes left over 11 civilians killed and over 30 others wounded on Wednesday, activist said.

Internationally banned weapons, including cluster bombs, have been systematically used in Russian attacks on rebel-held areas across Syria, as shown in videos and photos published on a daily basis by Syrian activists.

A mother and her two children were killed in the neighborhood of Alzibdiya in Aleppo when a barrel bomb containing the poisonous chlorine gas was dropped from helicopters belonging to regime forces on their house on Wednesday.

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 11.08.2016)

Syrian Refugee: If you don’t want us in your country, do not support a war in ours

An article of 30/06/2016

Maher Resho: A Syrian refugee in Denmark

By Nour Qudeimat/

“If you don’t want refugees in your country, do not support the war in their countries,” says Maher Resho; a Syrian-Kurdish man in his early 20’s who fled war-torn Syria in search of peace, to end up in Denmark in January 2016.

Living in a two story home with 34 other refugees of different backgrounds, Maher says that he has to wait for three years to get asylum and stay in Denmark as a citizen.

When asked about his opinion on the Danish lawmakers voting in favour of sending  F-16 warplanes, a transport aircraft and 400 military personnel to expand the fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq in the End of April, Maher said he understands the Europeans’ right to preserve their own country by not letting refugees in, but  finds it hypocritic to vote in support of war and then prevent refugees from coming into their country.

Maher, who refused to talk politics in an attempt to forget about the conflict that he fled, also pointed out that the home he currently lives in one of the ‘most expensive’ areas in the city. In addition, he gets a monthly salary, an insurance, attends intensive language classes and integration sessions, which he thought would be prettly costly for the Danish government.  

 “Instead of spending thousands of European money to help refugees, try to stop the war in their countries, or at least do not support it. Instead of holding internal meetings to talk about Syria, make safe places for the refugees in Syria or solve the problem.”

The house where Maher and 34 other refugees are staying

The house where Maher and 34 other refugees are staying

A long journey

Rashid Resho, 28,  Maher’s cousin who has been in denmark for one and a half years now, said he stayed in Turkey for two years before he decided to leave it in 2015 because he did not succeed to find a stability there.

It was impossible to continue living in Syria. The war was eating up everything. Our homes, our work. It was also hard to live in Turkey. I did nothing but work and go home to sleep.”

From there, Rashid left to Algeria, then to Libya, then to Italy by sea, and finally to Denmark.

“We spent three days in the sea. There were 210 of us on a 13 Square meter boat. They stuffed us on the boat like we were pickles. On our trip, only one child died in the sea, which is a lucky number in comparison with other trips. A lot of people have died in the sea.”

Rashid says that arriving on a safe ground was a huge relief to him, since the refugees are really looking for safety and security over anything else.

Rashid’s family is still shattered in different places. His father and sister have just arrived in Denmark but still live in camps and do not have residencies, while is mother and other siblings are in Istanbul and cannot cross to Denmark after the closure of Greece and Serbia. In addition, it would take a lot of money to smuggle them into Denmark.

Would you go back to Syria?

When asked if he would go back to Syria if he got the chance, Rashid and Maher said  that they would go back to Syria immediately, if the war ends.  Even despite the hopes that the situation in Syria would become better, both said that they believe that any kind of peace is still “far out of reach at the moment” in Syria.

Denmark, that is known for being one of the top welfare countries in the world, was said to have taken “a nasty turn on refugees” as described by the Washington post.

This includes a bill that was sharply criticized by the international community in January 2016, when Denmark proposed a bill that would confiscate refugees’ valuables. However, the plan was not carried out.

(Source / 10.08.2016)

British special forces operating inside southern Syria

On Monday, the BBC released exclusive photos of the British special forces operating on the ground along Syria’s southern border that feeds into Iraq and Jordan.

The pictures were taken in June when the western-backed “New Syrian Army”   was attacked by the so-called “Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham” (ISIS) at the Tanf border-crossing.

Unbeknownst at the time, the British special forces were pictured helping the New Syrian Army defend this vital border-crossing from the Islamic State terrorists.

ISIS would eventually be routed by the New Syrian Army and their western allies; however, since then, they have been confined to a small area in the vast Syrian Desert.

Adding insult to injury, the New Syrian Army were recently mocked in a propaganda video that was released by ISIS in July.

The video contained footage and pictures of the New Syrian Army soldiers training and conversing with their western allies; it would later show a large stockpile of weapons seized by ISIS.

The New Syrian Army’s spokesperson declined to answer the BBC’s questions on this matter.

(Source / 10.08.2016)

Syrian Coalition Discusses Latest Developments on the Ground with US Envoy to Syria

President of the Syrian Coalition Anas Alabdah and a number of political committee members met with the US special envoy to Syria Michael Ratney in Istanbul on Wednesday.

The two sides discussed the latest political and field developments in Syria, particularly developments in the city of Aleppo. They also discussed the US-Russian talks on Syria.

Ratney said that the US-Russian talks are still underway, explaining that no final agreement has been reached yet. The US envoy stressed the need to prioritize efforts to urgently address the situation in Aleppo.
Both sides also discussed the issue of sieges imposed on civilians, describing it as no longer acceptable from any side. The meeting agreed on the need to ensure safe exit for civilians from the besieged areas and to put an end to the suffering of the Syrian people. The meeting also stressed the need to give a new push to the political process leading to the creation of a new Syria without Bashar al-Assad.

President Alabdah stressed the need to address the humanitarian situation in Aleppo and all areas across Syria as well so to find sustainable solutions to all besieged areas. He reiterated calls to stop the targeting of civilians and medical facilities and to release detainees in Assad’s prisons.

Alabdah pointed out that the sheer scale of the humanitarian tragedy in Syria makes it imperative that the UN Security Council find radical solutions and push for the full implementation of international resolutions on Syria. He also said that political process needs to be restated to bring about a political transition without Bashar al-Assad and his inner circle.

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 10.08.2016)

Risking death to document life in Syria

Hussam-Eesa

Hussam Eesa

Much like Syria as a whole, little was known of the city of Raqqa before the civil war and the establishment of Daesh. Now, however, Raqqa conjures up images that stretch to public square beheadings, women clothed in black and groups of unruly men running amok with tanks and guns. Little is said of the living hell its citizens are forced to endure as the five year conflict rages on and even less of the daily civilian death toll that fails to hasten its end.

Raqqa was captured in 2013 and made Daesh’s headquarters in Syria in 2014 and has since been the focus of airstrikes from Syrian government forces, the US-led coalition and Russia as well as suffering irreversible damage caused internally Daesh. Hunger, siege and destruction mark the conditions of Syrian families fleeing the war in the area.

Given how dangerous the situation on the ground has become very few journalists, if any, operate directly from Syria. As a result, reports to international media agencies remain unverified due to the complete reliance on citizen journalists and activists who challenge the state-sponsored narrative of events between rebel groups, Daesh and government forces.  Armed with their mobile phones these activists are civilians who face death to document atrocities taking place on their doorsteps, posting on social media sites and amassing global audiences following their daily updates. Without these uncensored sources very little would be known about the extent of the conflict.

Well known activists including Hadi Abdullah have dominated the internet for as long as the conflict has spanned and have proven to be invaluable actors in holding the Syrian government to account for its crimes. Theirs are the eyes which allow the world to see the onslaught from within.

Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS) is a campaign launched by a group of non-violent activists in Raqqa to expose atrocities committed by the Assad regime and “terrorist extremist group” Daesh. Their website describes the group as a “nonpartisan and independent news page [not] tied to any political or military group.”

The group was first founded in April 2014 by Hussam Eesa and a few friends under the accountRaqqa Blog where news, pictures and videos from Raqqa were published regularly. Realising the support it was garnering they decided to branch out to other Syrian activists who were in the same line of work and create a bigger campaign called Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently. It was only a month later that the group would succumb to its first casualty: activist Almoutaz Bellah Ibrahim.

Based in Germany, Hussam Eesa works as RBSS’s public relations manager and recently represented the organisation at the One World Media Awards in London where they received the Special Award for their contributors’ “immense bravery” in exposing “…the atrocities committed by terrorist extremist group ISIS”, in reference to Daesh.

“Getting an award from One World Media makes us feel proud,” says Hussam. “It is a great honour for us, it is a great moral motivation to complete our work especially knowing that there are organisations that know our work and support us.”

Since 2014, the group has expanded its base beyond Raqqa, documenting not only atrocities committed by Daesh but those resulting from the Assad regime, Al-Nusra Front, the Free Syrian Army, Russia and the International Alliance’s involvement. The group now comprises of three main teams that operate from Raqqa, Turkey and Europe. Images, videos and news reports that are collated in Raqqa are then passed onto the teams in Turkey and Europe who then upload the content online.

Due to safety concerns and to minimalise risks, activists operate under pseudonyms and are not made given the names of the team member they work with online. However, these safety measures are not foolproof; four members of RBSS – two in Syria and two in Turkey – have been targeted and killed for their work.

Hussam explains that each activist that joins RBSS is fully briefed on the dangers they will face and given full personal and digital safety training. “They know our work and know that it may lead to death,” he says. However many are willing to take the risk in order to refute statistics that fail to measure up to the true extent of over five years of death and destruction.

Groups like RBSS are invaluable in shifting the global lens to where it matters most: civilians. They provide a voice for Syrians who are otherwise drowned out by the rhetoric of conflict resolution that has no place for them.

“The work of the team is important, [it has] uncovered many facts and a lot of the media and human rights organisations even consider us as a source [and] a lot of civilians in Syria believe that we are their voice,” Hussam explains.

“Everyone knows that our work is clear and we convey news from inside Syria,” he says. However the organisation often struggles to be noticed and believed on the backdrop of political disarray where the official narrative paints a very different picture.

Getting information out of war-torn Syria has proven very difficult for RBSS, constant power cuts and lack of equipment mean internet access is a luxury. But “we have alternative ways [to go online],” Hussam says. “We do not rely on internet cafes [and] have our own ways to convey information,” which is clearly evident by the daily Facebook and Twitter updates which have amassed a following of over a million users, and the content-laden website that documents atrocities, highlights regional statistics and provides a space for activists to post personal accounts of the war.

RBSS’s goal is simple: “To get Syria to [be a] free civilian democracy” and above all to be heard. “My message to the world would be that there are a lot of civilians who want freedom and democracy in Raqqa and in Syria, our problem is not just with ISIS. We are fighting ideologies, we are fighting all of the assaults on civilians [and] we must stop the war in Syria and see an end to Daesh, the Syrian regime and all the militia [that] are fighting our rights to freedom.”

This message is certainly not new; the same calls were made in March 2011, by Syrians who were out in their thousands peacefully singing in protest for an end to the Assad regime, raising roses to the sky for their fallen before being sprayed with bullets and seeing their country ripped apart by those violently scrambling to fill the gaping power vacuum. The international community repeatedly failed to meet the demands of Syrians in 2011, to fight a regime adamant on purging its citizens of dissent.

The singing may have quietened and the revolutionary spirit dimmed against the multi-faceted terror that has engulfed Syria but to say the demands of Syrians have been put aside is to deny a people who have held out for too long at a considerable price to gain back their country and their freedom.

“The best solution in Syria would be the elimination of the Syrian regime, ISIS and Kurdish militias, and all the groups that are fighting Syrians’ rights,” concludes Hussam. “The solution in Syria is supporting Syrians in achieving what they want and not what the international community wants.”

(Source / 09.08.2016)

Iraqi, Lebanese militias arrive in Aleppo to support Syrian regime

Iraqi soldiers. [File photo]

Iraqi soldiers. [File photo]

Thousands of Iraqi and Lebanese fighters have arrived in the Syrian city of Aleppo to support regime forces in their fight against the opposition, Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agencyreported.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah deployed fighters from its Radwan division to a government-held neighbourhood in Aleppo.

Meanwhile, reinforcements are also arriving from Iraq via Iran from the Iraq-based Hezbollah Brigades, Asaib Ahl Al-Haq and Harakat Al-Nujaba, the Associated Press reported militia officials as saying.

The Hezbollah Brigades have deployed 1,000 fighters on Sunday, an official said. Harakat Al-Nujaba announced on Facebook that it sent 2,000 fighters.

Iran and its allies have lost strategic sites in the battles, Fars reported, adding that the US fleet in the Mediterranean provides the opposition with information on the movement of Syrian troops and Iranian militias.

(Source / 09.08.2016)

Over 1,500 Civilians Killed By US Coalition In Iraq And Syria

Monitoring group Airwars said the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group has killed more than 1,500 people as the operation turns two.

Yemenis walk past graffiti showing a US drone. Photograph: Yahya Arhab/EPA

Yemenis walk past graffiti showing a US drone

More than 1,500 people have been killed by the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, London-based Airwars monitoring group said in a report released on the second anniversary of the beginning of the airstrikes against the extremist group.

“To August 8th 2016—the second anniversary of the air war—an overall total of between 3,462 and 4,736 civilian non-combatant fatalities had been alleged from 527 separate reported incidents, in both Iraq and Syria,” Airwars said in a report.

“Of these, Airwars presently estimates that a minimum of 1,568 civilians are likely to have died in Coalition actions.”

The monitoring group said the coalition carried out more than 14,300 strikes defined as any raid in which one or more munitions are dropped. Also the coalition increased its attacks against the Islamic State group in the second year by 39 percent.

The group added that “at least 441 children and 245 women are reported to be among those killed in confirmed and likely events, along with 1,355 or more civilians reportedly injured.” The group added that the U.S.-coalition has only admitted to killing less than 50 civilians.

Most of those strikes, 95 percent of them according to Airwars, have been carried out by the U.S. military. While the coalition includes 12 countries including the U.K., France and Saudi Arabia, Washington is responsible for rules of engagement for the entire coalition,

The news comes a few weeks after a U.S. airstrike killed at least 56 civilians near the Syrian town of Manbij during battles between the anti-Syrian government group, the Syria Democratic Forces and the Islamic State group.

Also Airwars told Middle East Eye last month that the U.S.-led coalition “appears to have loosened its rules of engagement in Syria and is putting civilian lives at greater risk.”

The U.S. says that after two years of airstrikes the extremist group’s territory shrunk by 40 percent in Iraq, and between 10 and 20 percent in Syria.

However, the large death toll casts doubts on foreign interventions in Syria by a range of countries and groups as they battle the extremist group at the expense of the local population.

(Source / 09.08.2016)

British FM Reaffirms Commitment to Political Solution in Letter to the Syrian Coalition

President of the Syrian Coalition Anas Alabdah earlier on Tuesday received a letter from the British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson about the situation in Syria and the political process. The British Foreign Secretary reaffirmed his country’s commitment “to supporting a political transition as the only way to bring an end to the tragic conflict in Syria and the terrible suffering of the Syrian people.”

Johnson stressed that this political transition should be based on UN Security Council resolutions on Syria, especially resolution 2254, and on the Geneva Communiqué of 2012.

The letter comes in response to a letter sent earlier by President Alabdah to foreign ministers of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) and the British Government. Alabdah’s letter called for taking concrete and immediate steps to force the Assad regime to abide by the cessation of hostilities agreement; lift the siege on all civilian areas; and allow immediate and unfettered humanitarian access across the country.

Johnson stressed that “it is essential that we promote a genuine Cessation of Hostilities in Syria and secure full and sustained access for humanitarian aid to those in need.”

With regard to the worsening humanitarian situation in Aleppo and Daraya, Johnson said: “We are taking every opportunity, at the UN Security Council and other fora, to raise our deep concern about unacceptable regime attacks in these areas and to call for an end to attacks on civilians”

The United Kingdom has pressed toward holding a public meeting of the UN Security Council to address the situation in Aleppo. During the meeting, which was held on July25, the United Kingdom called for sustained, unhindered humanitarian access to all besieged areas across Syria.

“I will ensure that addressing the tragic but hugely important situation in Syria remains a priority for the UK and the international community,” Johnson added.

In his first remarks about Syria since he took office as the UK’s Foreign Secretary, Johnson said that Bashar al-Assad cannot remain in power in Syria.

“I will be making clear my view that the suffering of the Syrian people will not end while Assad remains in power. The international community, including Russia, must be united on this,” Johnson said in a statement released on July 19.

The Syrian Coalition’s political committee, meanwhile, held consultative meetings with the provisional council in Aleppo and other concerned organizations to discuss the latest developments in the province, most particularly the use of internationally banned weapons and the targeting of hospitals by the Assad regime and Russian forces. Participants in the meetings also discussed coordinating efforts to ensure a more effective campaign to protect civilians and introduce aid into the eastern parts of the city after the siege has been broken.

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 09.08.2016)

Jabhat al-Nusra’s rebranding is more than simple name change

An Islamist Syrian rebel from Jabhat al-Nusra talks on a walkie-talkie while carrying his weapon on the al-Khazan front line of Khan Sheikhoun, northern Idlib province, May 17, 2014

On July 28, Jabhat al-Nusra announced it was severing all ties with its parent organization, al-Qaeda, and changing its name to Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (Conquest of Syria Front). Al-Qaeda gave its blessing to the move, reflecting an evolution by both organizations in their international strategies and a deep understanding of local Syrian dynamics.

Jordanian Salafist expert Hassan Abu Haniya, however, questions how much distance the secession will really put between the groups due to their complex ideological, historical and personal links.

Jabhat al-Nusra leader Abu Mohammed al-Golani appeared on camera late last month declaring “the complete cancellation of all operations under the name of Jabhat al-Nusra.” He said the new organization has no affiliation with any external entity.

On July 28, al-Qaeda’s second-in-command, Ahmed Hassan Abu al-Khayr, announced that Jabhat al-Nusra’s leadership had been instructed to “go ahead with what protects the interests of Islam and Muslims and what protects jihad.” Al-Qaeda’s No. 1 leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, added, “The brotherhood of Islam … is stronger than any organizational links.”

Yet Abu Haniya noted that Golani’s announcement carried many references to al-Qaeda: Golani was dressed in military fatigues, like the late al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, and used Arabic expressions and references used by the infamous leader.

Besides the framing of the actual announcement, Abu Haniya explained, Jabhat al-Nusra’s decision was backed by major jihadi ideologues such as Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi and Abu Qatada. Maqdisi and Abu Qatada are two influential Jordanian Salafist jihadi clerics with close links to al-Qaeda.

The move also garnered the approval of Saudi Sheikh Abdallah al-Muhaysini, the cleric of Jaish al-Fatah (Army of Conquest). Powerful Syrian rebel factions such as Ahrar al-Sham also applauded Jabhat al-Nusra’s decision, while figures such as Abu Hamza Hamawi, the head of the Salafist Ajnad al-Sham faction, said Jabhat al-Nusra’s decision could facilitate military unity.

In addition, al-Qaeda’s second-in-command, Abu al-Khayr, who blessed the secession, is currently in Syria with the consent of Jabhat al-Nusra. “What does this tell you of the supposed [split] in relations? If there was a real break of the pledge of allegiance between the two organizations, it is supposed to be [according to jihadi practices] condemned by death,” said Abu Haniya. He said the groups’ separation appears to be only tactical.

He added that the decoupling shows al-Qaeda prioritizes its affiliate’s survival. “Al-Qaeda has witnessed several phases since its inception as it went from a local organization [in Afghanistan] to a global organization after the September 2001 coordinated terror attacks on the United States, which was followed by a period of ‘indimaj,’ a period of mixed policies with a focus on both the far and close enemies. Now we are witnessing a return to the primacy of local dynamics,” Abu Haniya stressed.

The expert added that the transformation also indicates al-Qaeda’s move since the Arab Spring to an emphasis on Syria-centered politics.

That move to prioritizing local politics has translated into Jabhat al-Nusra adopting a pragmatic approach to external and internal pressures. On July 13, Russia and the United States discussed forming a Joint Implementation Group to share intelligence, to possibly direct operational cooperation against Jabhat al-Nusra and to keep Russia from targeting jointly designated, and presumably opposition-controlled, areas.

The new US-Russian partnership might have accelerated Jabhat al-Nusra’s departure from al-Qaeda. In his statement, Golani said the Syrian opposition to the regime has to “remove the pretext used by powers, including the US and Russia, to bomb Syrians.”

Internal pressures also might have influenced Jabhat al-Nusra’s leadership decision. In the past year, the group held various discussions toward that goal, with Jabhat al-Nusra member Abu Maria al-Qahtani of Iraq arguing for the “Syrianization” of Jabhat al-Nusra, according to Syrian Islamic sources. “Syrian members of Jabhat al-Nusra who represent the large majority were also in favor of severance of ties with al-Qaeda,” Sheikh Hassan Dgheim, a Syrian cleric who studies Islamic organizations, told Al-Monitor.

Aleppo-based journalist Ahmad Abi Zeid told Al-Monitor many Syrians within Jabhat al-Nusra do not necessarily espouse al-Qaeda’s ideology, but have joined the organization because of the power it projects.

However, Abu Haniya believes the break with al-Qaeda was the result of a simple opportunity-and-threat analysis. “Jabhat al-Nusra felt it was losing popularity, and it affected their relations with other groups. Since the break, the rebel coalition was given new impetus with the Aleppo offensive.” On July 31, rebel groups launched the “Great Battle” (malahem) on Aleppo, which is still underway.

Dynamics marking the fresh Aleppo offensive by a large rebel alliance, including Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, confirm Jabhat al-Nusra’s successful calculation to decouple from al-Qaeda. The separation allowed the new group to consolidate its presence on Syrian soil and form alliances with other rebel groups that previously were hesitant to join forces with them due to the al-Qaeda affiliation.

“The rebranding and fresh victories will add credibility to Jabhat Fatah al-Sham. This will certainly have repercussions on factions that were previously afraid of being targeted by cooperating with [al-Qaeda]. Salafist and Islamic factions will definitely perceive this move positively,” Abi Zeid said.

Nonetheless, severing ties with the global jihad movement may also place the organization at a disadvantage. Dgheim underlines that in the past three months, several members of the group defected to join the Islamic State. This phenomenon may indicate a wider dissatisfaction among Jabhat al-Nusra’s hard-liners, specifically its foreign fighters. Abu Haniya, however, disagreed.

“The decision to break ties with al-Qaeda had the approval of foreign leaders within the organization. During the secession announcement, Golani surrounded himself with a Syrian national, Abu Abdullah al-Shami, and a foreign fighter, Ahmad Salama Mabruk, also known as Abu Faraj the Egyptian, which is highly symbolic and shows the prevalence of its foreign affiliation,” Abu Haniya explained, adding that the number of defections to this date has been limited.

Regardless of the repercussion of its name change on the Syrian scene, Jabhat al-Nusra’s decision to rebrand is a clear indicator of al-Qaeda’s repositioning in the Levant. Jabhat Fatah al-Sham’s new coalitions and its view of the Syrian political system and the peace process will reveal the extent of the organization’s pragmatism and whether it is really willing to evolve.

(Source / 09.08.2016)

Syrian Coalition: Rebels & FSA Move to Next Stage of Aleppo Offensive to Liberate Entire City

President of the Syrian Coalition Anas Alabdah said that Syrian rebels and FSA fighters have moved to the next stage in their offensive to break the siege on the eastern parts of Aleppo, which is the liberation of the entire city.

At a joint news conference with head of the Syrian interim government Jawad Abu Hatab and head of Idlib provincial council Ghassan Hamou earlier on Monday, Alabdah confirmed that rebels and FSA groups have already reassured residents in the regime-held parts of the city that they will be protected. There is still an opportunity for regime officers and soldiers to defect and join the revolution, Alabdah added.

“Important measures need to be taken by the United Nations and the International Syria Support Group if they were serious about bringing about a political transition in Syria. The Syrian opposition has proved it is serious to resolve the conflict through actions not just words,” Alabdah said.

Alabdah called upon the international community to act to deter the Assad regime and Russia from targeting hospitals and to prevent the use of internationally banned weapons in attacks on rebel-held areas across Syria. He cited the recent airstrikes on Idlib and Darya in which thermite was used in airstrikes by the Russian air force.
Alabdah also called for action to protect the lives of hundreds of detainees in Suweida Central Prison and the lives of thousands of civilians trapped in besieged areas.

Head of the Syrian interim government Jawad Abu Hatab said that plans to provide better services to the civilian population in Aleppo and Idlib have been developed in coordination with local councils in these two provinces. He noted that the interim government is coordinating with the Aleppo free police to enforce law and order in the streets of Aleppo and Idlib provinces.

Abu Hatab denounced the Assad regime’s policy of imposing blockades on liberated areas across Syria, noting that this policy is a war crime that contravenes International Law and International Humanitarian Law. He also condemned the bombing of medical facilities by the Assad regime and Russian forces, adding that the actions of the Assad regime and Russia amount to ethnic cleansing.

Abu Hatab criticized the international community’s silence over the terrible crimes that have been committed by the Assad regime for over five years.

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 08.08.2016)