Turkey, US agree on no-fly zone over Syria: Turkish Hurriyet daily

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (C-L) talking to his US counterpart Barack Obama (file photo)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (C-L) talking to his US counterpart Barack Obama

An agreement reached between Turkey and the United States on what they call cooperation against the ISIL terrorist group also includes establishing a no-fly zone over the Arab country, a Turkish newspaper says.

Turkey’s leaders had on Friday confirmed that a deal had been reached, and said it would enable the US to use the key Turkish Incirlik Air Base, which is located near Syria.

However, Turkish newspaper Hurriyet said that the agreement also outlines a 90-kilometer (56 mile) no-fly zone between the Syrian towns of Marea and Jarabulus.

An aerial view of the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey

Hurriyet said the no-fly zone would shield a planned safe zone on the ground that would extend up to 50 kilometers (31 miles) inside Syria.

“US planes equipped with bombs and missiles will be able to use the Incirlik Air Base,” and Turkey could back up their air raids with artillery, the newspaper wrote.

Syrian warplanes would be targeted should they enter the no-fly zone, according to the report.

Turkey itself carried out aerial attacks using three F-16 fighter jets against what were said to be ISIL targets inside Syria.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the Turkish warplanes were “100 percent” successful in their strikes inside Syria, noting, “The operation against IS (ISIL) reached its target and will not stop.”

The pledge to confront ISIL Takfiris comes despite Turkey’s longtime support for the militancy against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with reports showing that Ankara actively trains and arms the Takfiri extremists operating in Syria, and also facilitates the safe passage of foreign terrorists into the Arab country.

Ankara and Washington previously signed a deal to train and arm the anti-Damascus Takfiris. The program, which officially started earlier this month, is aimed at training over 15,000 militants in three years. Over 120 US soldiers are reportedly in Turkey to train the militants.

(Source / 24.07.2015)

UN: Yarmouk no longer classified as besieged despite appalling conditions

Aid has not been delivered to Yarmouk since March, but the UN has reclassified the camp as no longer under siege

Syrian soldiers try to warm themselves by a fire amidst the rubble in Yarmouk

As the conflict rages on in Syria, one area that has suffered devastating consequences is now being dealt another blow.

While humanitarian aid has not been delivered to Yarmouk, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria, for four months, the UN has removed the camp from its list of besieged areas in Syria, IRIN News reported on Friday.

Once home to more than 180,000 Palestinians and Syrians alike, Yarmouk has been under attack since December 2012 when Syrian government forces began shelling the camp. Its population has been decimated as tens of thousands have fled to escape barrel bombs, arrests, and a tightening siege.

Only 18,000 people remain in Yarmouk. For more than two and a half years, a Syrian government siege has forced residents to eat animal feed and stray cats, dogs and donkeys in order to survive. Syrian authorities control the checkpoints to the north, preventing anyone from entering or leaving it. The rest of the camp is under disputed control by both opposition and government-allied Palestinian armed groups.

Medical aid, sorely lacking, has been delivered on rare occasions and is never enough, residents have told Middle East Eye. Locals have frequently complained that when humanitarian aid is allowed to pass through, it is always shifted to other neighbouring areas such as Yalda and Babila.

In April, Yarmouk briefly captured worldwide attention after the Islamic State group (IS) entered it. Despite the gun battles that took place between IS and other opposing armed groups, activists told MEE that the largest threat continues to be from President Bashar al-Assad’s barrel bombs that they say are dropped indiscriminately over residential houses, schools, and clinics.

The UN has repeatedly called for the Syrian government to allow access into the camp, condemning the catastrophic conditions. Chris Gunness, the spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency has described Yarmouk as a “hellhole”. Aid has not been delivered to the camp for four months now.

“Access to Yarmouk in the context of the last few years has been appalling,” Gunness said. “We have not managed to have the access that we need and certainly we have not been in the camp since 28 March, just a few days before IS moved in.”

While the UN lacks direct access to Yarmouk, it has been able to deliver aid to three neighbouring suburbs, which led UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon to reclassify the camp as no longer under siege in a report released in late June, IRIN News reported on Friday.

‘Highest concern’

However, IRIN notes, the UN’s own definition of a besieged area is characterised as being “surrounded by armed actors with the sustained effect that humanitarian assistance cannot regularly enter, and civilians, the sick and wounded cannot regularly exist the area.”

UNRWA has no say in reclassifying the camp’s status. Instead, the decision is made by the secretary-general on the advice of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which supervises UN emergency aid programmes.

Valerie Syzbala, the author of a report published in March by the Syrian American Medical Society Foundation (SAMS), told IRIN that OCHA has not applied its definition of areas under siege on a consistent basis.

The SAMS report recognises 38 communities throughout Syria that should be considered by the UN as besieged.

“OCHA makes concessions to the Syrian government regarding besieged areas that it feels are appropriate to do good work,” Syzbala said. “This means sacrificing the means in order to deliver the ends. But it is not appropriate, and I think they are doing more damage than good.”

Amanda Pitt, the OCHA spokesperson, told IRIN News: “For the time being, Yarmouk is not considered besieged, but it remains an area of highest concern. Thousands of civilians remain trapped in the area, and thousands more have been displaced to the surrounding areas of Yalda, Babila, and Beit Sahm.”

(Source / 24.07.2015)

 

Syria’s 2 main opposition groups agree on ‘roadmap’

Turkey Explosion

Mourners walk toward a cemetery in Istanbul, July 22, 2015, during the funeral procession of three of the victims of an explosion Monday in the town of Suruc, southeastern Turkey. Protests have erupted in Istanbul and other cities after the suicide bombing Monday in the southeastern town of Suruc, near the border with Syria, which killed 32 people and wounded scores

BEIRUT — Syria’s two main political opposition groups agreed on Thursday on a unified “roadmap” for a political solution to the country’s long-running civil war, representatives of the groups said.

The two parties have been trying for years to reach a common understanding on how to end the war in Syria. Their agreement came as the U.N. envoy, Staffan de Mistura, was in Damascus to press efforts to find a political solution to the country’s war.

But violence continued on the ground and suspected Islamic State militants fired at a Turkish military outpost from inside Syrian territory on Thursday, killing a Turkish soldier and wounding two others. Turkish troops retaliated to the attack and at least one IS militant was killed, according to Turkish official Suleyman Tapsiz, the governor for the Kilis province.

The attack follows a suicide bombing in a Turkish town near the Syrian border on Monday which killed 32 people. Authorities have blamed the attack on militants linked to IS.

Meanwhile in Brussels, where the Syrian opposition groups have been meeting, representatives of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) and the National Coordination Body for the Forces of Democratic Change (NCB) said they would announce details of their agreement at a press conference the following day.

Members of the SNC, the main political group in exile, have long accused the Damascus-based NCB, whose leaders have been tolerated by the Syrian government, of being too lenient and even complicit with President Bashar Assad’s government. Members of the NCB, in turn, have often accused the SNC of being bankrolled by oil-rich Arab Gulf countries.

Their disagreements have contributed to the notorious divisions within the Syrian opposition.

“Today we are breaking the parable of lack of unity within the opposition,” Khalaf Dawohd, a member of the NCB’s executive committee, told The Associated Press from Brussels.

Hadi Bahra, a senior member of the SNC, said the agreement bolsters the unity and position of the opposition.

“It is a message to the international community to exert pressure and discuss seriously how to bring this (Syrian) regime to the table for a political transition,” he said.

Both groups are accused of being out of touch with the realities in Syria and have almost no following among the myriad of rebel groups fighting on the ground. But a unified political front could strengthen the opposition’s hand at any future peace talks with Assad’s government.

Staffan de Mistura, who arrived Thursday in the Syrian capital, has been meeting with Syrian politicians and regional stakeholders, trying to come up with a way to end the conflict in Syria, which has killed around 220,000 people since March 2011.

His office says he is working to finalize his proposals to the U.N. chief, Ban Ki-moon, on a way forward to support Syrian parties in their search of a political solution.

De Mistura held talks with Syria’s foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, who said his country supports a regional effort to eliminate “terrorism.”

Al-Moallem said Syria considers eradicating terrorism a “fundamental priority.” The Syrian government considers all armed groups fighting to topple Assad as terrorist groups.

(Source / 23.07.2015)

Marwa: Talks With National Coordination Commission “Positive”

Talks between the Syrian Coalition and the National Coordination Commission continues for the second day at the EU Brussels headquarters within a positive atmosphere, according to Vice-president Hisham Marwa.

Marwa pointed out that “we can say that previous disagreements with the National Coordination Commission will be part of the past.”

Marwa stated they discussed “The Document of Basic Principles for a Political Settlement,” while both sides are currently putting the final touches on a common vision. They are also discussing follow-up and communication mechanisms, and will hold a press conference announcing outcomes on Friday.

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 23.07.2015)

Syrian Coalition Resumes talks with National Coordination Commission in Brussels

As a follow-up to the Cairo and Paris meetings, the Syrian Coalition and the National Coordination Commission for Democratic Change resumed talks aimed at reaching an agreement on “a roadmap to save Syrian and on the basic principles for a political settlement” in the Brussels European Union headquarters.

The talks are held within the framework of ensuring the achievement of the Syrians’ aspirations for freedom and dignity through the participation of all components of the Syrian society in a national democratic comprehensive change process. This process is hoped to lead to the building of a new Syria, ending the authoritarian Assad regime and ending the great suffering it caused over the decades.

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 22.07.2015)

3 Spanish Journalists Reported Missing in Syria

The three men disappeared while working in the northern city of Aleppo

(MADRID)—Three Spanish freelance journalists who traveled to Syria to report amid the country’s long-running civil war have gone missing around the embattled northern city of Aleppo, a Spanish journalism association said Tuesday, the latest ensnared in the world’s most dangerous assignment for reporters.

Aleppo

People walk past a damaged building in the al-Kalasa neighbourhood of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on July 19, 2015

The disappearance of Antonio Pampliega, Jose Manuel Lopez and Angel Sastre, presumed to be working together, comes as most media organizations have pulled out of Syria, especially with the rise of the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) group. At least 84 journalists have been killed since 2011 in Syria, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, while others remain missing or have been released for ransom.

Elsa Gonzalez, the president of the association, told Spanish National Television in a telephone interview that the three disappeared while working in the Aleppo area. She said they entered Syria from Turkey on July 10 and were last heard of two days later.

Sastre, a television journalist, last posted on Twitter July 10, when he wrote “courage” in Arabic, English and Spanish. Pampliega worked as a freelance reporter, whose most recent work featured a story about Spaniard fighting with Kurds in Kobani against the Islamic State group. Spanish media identified Lopez as a photojournalist.

It was not clear where exactly the men went missing. Once Syria’s commercial center, the city of Aleppo been carved up between government- and rebel-held neighborhoods since 2012, with government forces controlling much of western Aleppo and rebel groups in control of the east.

The Islamic State group, which has kidnapped Western journalists in Syria and later killed them, is outside the city and controls parts of the northern and eastern Aleppo countryside. The extremists are responsible for most kidnappings in Syria since the summer of 2013, but government-backed militias, criminal gangs and rebels affiliated with the Western-backed Free Syrian Army also have been involved with various motives.

An unprecedented spate of kidnappings by Islamic State militants starting in summer 2013 has kept most journalists away, particularly since the group began killing foreign journalists and aid workers it holds, starting with American journalist James Foley in August last year. Foley’s taped beheading was followed by the killing of American-Israeli journalist Steven Sotloff, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, American aid worker Peter Kassig, as well as Japanese nationals Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto.

The group also has generated cash from ransoming European journalists.

Often media don’t report abduction cases at the request of the families or employers. It’s not clear how many foreign and local journalists remain held in Syria, though the number likely is in the dozens.

A Spanish Foreign Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with policy regulations said the ministry is aware of the situation and is working on it, declining to elaborate. Gonzalez did not say whether the journalists were on assignment for specific media organizations.

Aleppo is the scene of daily fighting. Government helicopters also regularly drop explosive barrels on rebel-held parts of the city.

A missile attack on a rebel-held neighborhood in Aleppo killed at least 10 people and wounded many others Tuesday, two activist groups said.

The Local Coordination Committees said the attack on the Maghayer neighborhood killed 10 people, including women and children.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attack killed 18 people and wounded more than 50. It said the surface-to-surface missile destroyed several houses in the area.

It is not uncommon to have different death tolls in the aftermath of attacks in Syria, where the four-year conflict has killed more than 220,000 people.

Meanwhile near the border with Lebanon, Syrian troops backed by Hezbollah fighters captured several neighborhoods in the mountain resort of Zabadani that has been under attack for nearly three weeks.

Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television station said troops and Lebanese militants have besieged rebels inside Zabadani from all sides, adding that they inflicted heavy casualties among them. It said dozens of fighters were wounded in the fighting.

The Observatory, which has a network of activists around Syria, said the Syrian government air force has dropped 36 barrel bombs on Zabadani since Tuesday morning. The Observatory reported that dozens of airstrikes have targeted Zabadani since the offensive began on July, 3.

The capture of Zabadani would tighten Hezbollah’s grip on Syrian territories bordering Lebanon and strengthen the Syrian government’s control over of the Beirut-Damascus highway.

(Source / 21.07.2015)

Syrian Coalition Criticizes Ban Ki-moon’s Silence Over Iran and Assad Crimes

The Interim Ministry of Defense calls on the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to break his silence over the Assad regime’s systematic crimes against the Syrian people.

Interim Defense Minister Salim Idris, who made the televised statement, said that Zabadani is coming under an external invasion carried out by Iranian-backed terrorist forces, calling on the UN Security Council to shoulder its legal responsibilities to put an end to the intervention of the Iranian-backed extremist militias.

Idris also said the onslaught on Zabadani is accompanied by intense air raids and barrel bombing, adding that so far over 600 barrel bombs and 300 rockets have hit the town and its surroundings.

Idris pointed out that the regime’s onslaught on Zabadani comes in conjunction with a suffocating siege on rebel fighters in the hope of achieving victory to cover up its defeats in northern and southern Syria.

He calls on all friends and brothers of the Syrian people to provide all kinds of aid to Zabadani and other parts of Syria through the Syrian Coalition and the Interim government. He also calls on rebel factions on all fronts to step military operations against regime forces to ease pressure on Zabadani.

Idris stresses that rebel fighters in Zabadani and all fronts in Syria are putting up heroic fight against regime forces even though they are outgunned and under-equipped, emphasizing that the revolution for freedom and dignity will continue until all Syria is liberated from oppression and tyranny.

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 21.07.2015)

New FSA military leadership announced

Syrians continue to flee into neighbouring countries as the Syrian civil war continues. [file photo]

Syrians continue to flee into neighbouring countries as the Syrian civil war continues

The Supreme Military Command of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) announced on Sunday the formation of a new military leadership council aiming to “bridge the gaps” in the body of the Syrian resistance, alkhaleejonline.net reported on Sunday.

In a press conference held in the Turkish city of Al-Rayhaneh, the new leadership read out a statement saying that: “We hope to merge with all Syrian revolutionary institutions and form one revolutionary body to represent all Syrians.”

The statement called for all the active Syrian powers to bear their responsibilities and “meet together for the fateful battle against Assad regime.”

It added: “We seek to lift the suffering of our people… We call on all our brothers not to overstep their powers.”

According to the statement, the people who formed the new body, have contacted all the revolutionary bodies, but they were faced with objection from the National Coalition Powers and the opposition.

Alkhaleejonline.net reported that the FSA brigades in the northern, eastern and coastal fronts announced their support to the new council.

“We are not a competitive project,” one of the officers said in the press conference. “Our criticism of the Syrian Coalition is related to its form,” he added.

The officer said that the only side that cooperated with then was the Syrian Revolution Leadership Council. He also added that new specialist leaders would be assigned and developed operation rooms would be equipped soon.

(Source / 20.07.2015)

KOBANE CIZIRE UPDATE 117: DOUBLE BLAST ON EITHER SIDE OF TURKISH BORDER AT KOBANE LEAVES 27 DEAD

By Peter Clifford              ©                 (www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-iraq-news-5/)

http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news-3

SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS

The first explosion this morning, Monday, was at the Turkish town of Suruc not far from the border with Kobane and home to a refugee camp for Kobane’s refugees.

SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS

 

Young Volunteers Enjoying Breakfast Shortly Before the Bomb Blast

The blast appears to have been a suicide bomb at the Kurdish Cultural Centre where young members of the Socialist Youth Association were meeting to plan the building of a library and a park in Kobane.

The bomb went off while a press release was being made about the young volunteers going to Kobane to give their time to aid the reconstruction of the city.

The were photographed sitting at tables under the trees happily enjoying breakfast together shortly before the bomb went off.

Turkish officials initially said 27 young people were killed and more than 100 injured, though the death toll has now risen to 31. The injured have been transferred to Urfa and hospitals in other surrounding towns.

The numbers of dead would have been even higher if some buses bringing more volunteers to the press conference had not been delayed.

The bomber is reported by one media outlet as an 18 year old woman, but this has not been confirmed. Another says there is an injured young woman in hospital wearing a suicide vest – again not confirmed.

The finger once again points at the Islamic State and their mindless, meaningless atrocities.

Shortly after the explosion on the Turkish side of the border, another occurred in Kobane itself on the Syrian side.

At first it was thought to be a car bomb, but it seems to have been an unstable old mortar stored in a warehouse. No casualties were reported, though all the windows in the immediate area were broken and people in the vicinity were showered with broken glass, suffering minor injuries. However, Kurdish security services and the YPG remain on high alert.

Elsewhere in Kobane province and beyond, fighting continues. At the end of last week, the Islamic State (IS) launched another series of concurrent attacks in the south of Kobane Canton, hitting the villages of Qilhayde, Sina, Argane, Nurali and Arabic Sepata with mortars and heavy weaponry.

The combined YPG/FSA force dealt with this and responded without losing territory. On the east side of the Canton, IS attacked the village of Faatfe, but the YPG effectively drove them off, killing 5 x Is Jihadists and seizing 2 thermal scopes.

Further east a raid was also carried out by IS on Nastal, a village 24 kilometres west of Mabroukah, not far from Serekaniye. 3 x IS Jihadists tried to infiltrate the village from the Turkish border, which is less than three quarters of a kilometre away.

One of the IS fighters was killed, one fled back across the border and the third, believed to be wounded, was the subject of a search operation.

On Friday night, more fighting broke out a Qilhayde, with more IS Jihadists killed and AK-47s, a machine gun, hand grenades, ammunition and equipment and an IS vehicle all captured.

Also near Ain Issa, the YPG targeted the IS-held village of Shergirat and 2 other nearby locations, ultimately freeing them and securing the area.

Another group of 3 x IS fighters penetrated the town of Suluk and using a previously hidden store of weapons attempted a suicide attack, but were eliminated and their weapons seized.

SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS

 

YPG Fighters Near Hasakah

Over in Hasakah, having captured the Youth Detention Centre in the middle of last week, the YPG advanced to the village of Tal’a leaving 4 dead Jihadists on the battlefield.

A second force of YPG moved at the same time from the neighbourhood of Azizya round to southern Hasakah, securing the village of Fallah on the way.

Later the same day 2 villages in the Vilate Sor district were captured from IS and the end result was that over a 48 hour period 30 x IS Jihadists were killed and an IS tank, a Humvee armoured vehicle and 4 other vehicles, plus large quantities of ammunition and weapons were seized.

Over the weekend another YPG force advancing from the Abdul Aziz Mountain area, linked up with the 2 groups from south and east Hasakah, effectively cutting off all the Islamic State’s rural supply routes into the Hasakah districts of Nashwa, Khweran and Panorama.

The YPG have also penetrated the Nashwa area clashing with IS at the village of Um Hijra.

In order to try and break the encirclement of their fighters by the YPG within Hasakah, the Jihadists have attempted attacks from Hawl to the east of the city and Malabiyeah to the south, but so far without success.

Reports yesterday suggest that 5 x IS Jihadists, including a commander, were trapped in a house by the YPG in the Nashwa district and after several hours were forced to surrender.

Pressure is being kept up on IS with the use of heavy weaponry supported by Coalition airstrikes and constant sniper fire. There are unconfirmed reports that IS are trying dig themselves out in some places by creating tunnels.

On the road to the Regiment 121 base violent clashes were reported between IS and the YPG and at Tel Baroud village, 13 kilometres south of Hasakah, the YPG were able to stop an IS convoy bringing supplies to their fighters. Other reports say that IS are still getting ammunition into Nashwa and Zuhour by using motorbikes.

Assad’s military have retreated into the centre of Hasakah and are saying that they have “allowed” the YPG to capture areas to the south of the city which they formerly controlled …. (EDITOR: Did they have much choice?)

This video footage shows the Senadid Army, provided by the Governor of Cizire Canton, fighting, with the YPG near Hasakah, (English Sub-titles. Mostly handsome young men, ladies, with very distinctive long black hair!), HERE:

Map of the current situation in Hasakah courtesy of showing IS (grey) completely surrounded by the YPG (yellow) with Assad’s forces (red brown) in the centre of the city, here:

SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS

 

IS Trapped and Surrounded by YPG in Hasakah

Moving more to the south, the YPG has captured the town of Al-Hishah, just 40 kilometres north of Raqqah.

The Kurds have said that they want the FSA and other Opposition groups to lead the fight to take Raqqah and that they will provide support, but no clear plan is as yet obvious. After recent IS attacks in Europe and North Africa, expect heavy Coalition support.

Perhaps in anticipation of this, reports that the Islamic State is moving its foreign officials in Raqqah to the northern and eastern outskirts of Aleppo are not surprising. Local IS officials are now being left in charge of Raqqah apparently.

Just to make sure they get the message, Coalition planes have dropped a leaflet on Raqqa, Sarrin and Shaddada over the weekend which depicts YPG, YPJ (female) and FSA fighters walking down a street in a rather dark comic format with dead IS fighters strewn on the streets on either side.

The message underneath is “Freedom Will Prevail”. (EDITOR: Let’s hope so!)

SYRIA and IRAQ NEWS

 

Leaflet Dropped Over IS Towns and Cities by Coalition

Back in Kobane city, trucks loaded with tons of food (including fresh vegetables) for the population, arrived from Cizire Canton on Sunday but a sour note was raised after Burkan Al –Firat, the combined FSA/YPG force known as “Euphrates Volcano”, which has been extremely effective against IS, fired 2 FSA battalions and told them to leave the city.

The 2 FSA military groups, Zaza and Jund Al-Heremin, were ordered to leave after accusations of theft, unethical behaviour and lack of commitment.

MORE NEWS FOLLOW SHORTLY ……

In ‘Subservience’ To Washington, British Pilots Secretly Bombing Syria

Airstrikes are being conducted without parliamentary approval, Reprieve learned through a freedom of information request.

A ground crewman instructs movement to a U.S. Air Force pilot in an A-10 Thunderbolt attack jet prior to takeoff for a combat mission, in Bagram air base, northeast of Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Oct. 7, 2002. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

File: A ground crewman instructs movement to a U.S. Air Force pilot in an A-10 Thunderbolt attack jet prior to takeoff for a combat mission. Monday, Oct. 7, 2002

British pilots have been secretly carrying out airstrikes in Syria, despite the government’s own pledge to hold a vote in parliament before launching bombardments in the country, the London-based human rights organization Reprieve discovered through a freedom of information request revealed Friday.

In the initial request, Reprieve asked the Ministry of Defense (MoD): “Have any UK military personnel conducted airstrikes in Syria or Iraq using non-UK equipment? If so, how many, where and using whose equipment?”

In response, the MoD said: “UK military personnel embedded with the USA, French and Canadian armed forces have been authorized to deploy with their units to participate in coalition operations against Isil. UK embeds operate as if they were the host nation’s personnel, under that nation’s chain of command. These personnel include pilots flying… strike missions against Isil targets using the equipment of those units. Of these three nations only the USA and Canada are operating in Syrian airspace.”

The reply means that UK pilots have been involved in airstrikes in Syria, under the command of U.S. or Canadian forces.

The UK is participating in the bombings despite the fact that the House of Commonsrejected military intervention in Syria in a vote two years ago. Moreover, Defense Secretary Michael Fallon previously pledged to hold a parliamentary vote before launching airstrikes in Syria, but no such vote has taken place.

“It is alarming that Parliament and the public have been kept in the dark about this for so long,” said Jennifer Gibson, Reprieve staff attorney. “Yet more worrying is the fact that the UK seems to have turned over its personnel to the US wholesale, without the slightest idea as to what they are actually doing, and whether it is legal.”

“We need an open and honest debate about UK involvement in Iraq and Syria,” Gibson added. “We can’t have that, though, until the UK comes clean about what actions its personnel are already undertaking.”

The UK has been carrying out airstrikes in Iraq since last September.

The Stop the War Coalition said Friday’s revelations “reveal both the government’s contempt for democracy and its subservience to Washington foreign policy.”

“Stop the War demands the government publicly commits to an immediate end to British bombing of Syria,” the organization continued. “More widely we call for an end to military and diplomatic support for Saudi Arabia in its war on Yemen and for a stop to the bombing campaign in Iraq.”

(Source / 18.07.2015)