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UN envoy meets Assad representatives in Geneva peace talks

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A camerawoman films the Globe outside of the United Nations Offices on the opening day of peace talks on Syria, January 29, 2016, Geneva, Switzerland. (AFP photo)

A camerawoman films the Globe outside of the United Nations Offices on the opening day of peace talks on Syria, January 29, 2016, Geneva, Switzerland

The UN envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura has met representatives of President Bashar al-Assad in Geneva at the start of UN-mandated peace talks. 

The Syrian government delegation to the talks is headed by the country’s ambassador to the United Nations Bashar al-Ja’afari.

There had been speculations that the highly anticipated talks could be delayed due to objections raised by some groups fighting against the government of President Assad.

Some opposition groups on Friday said they will stay away from the talks as their demand had been ignored by the UN.

Basma Kodmani, a member of the opposition’s negotiating team, said they are still waiting for a response from the UN on demands such as lifting the siege on militant-held areas and an end to the aerial campaign by Russian and Syrian warplanes.

The Russian Air Force has been engaged in combat sorties against the positions of the Takfiri Daesh terrorists in Syria since September 30, 2015, upon a request from Damascus.

On January 25, de Mistura said in a briefing with reporters that no precondition will be accepted ahead of the negotiations, adding that the warring sides of the conflict should not miss the great opportunity of negotiations in Geneva.

De Mistura’s statement on Friday reiterated that the fresh round of talks will be, as declared before, in form of “proximity talks” with no direct meetings planned between the government and representatives of the foreign-backed opposition.

(Source / 29.01.2016)

Written by altahrir

January 29, 2016 at 8:47 pm

Posted in Revolution Syria

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Riyad Hijab: Syrian Opposition Delegation Will Not Join Geneva Before Assurances From The International Community

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Riyad Hijab: Syrian opposition delegation will not join Geneva before assurances from the international community

Gaziantep (Qasioun) – “Riyad Hijab” The General Coordinator Of The High Negotiations Committee Followed To The Syrian Opposition Forces Have Said On Thursday That The Delegation Will Not Enter The Negotiations’ Room Without Achieving Their Demands, Pointing That “If There Is No Achievement For Fighting Matter, We Will Not Make Any Achievement In Negotiations”

Hijab Added “It Was Better For Di Mestura To Send A Message To Bashar Al-Assad To Stop Killing, Pointing That Some Of Those Who Joins The Negotiations, Were Invited By Di Mistura As Consultants For Him.

Syria Opposition Puts Off Peace Talks Decision Until Friday

Syrian Opposition Members Meeting In Riyadh Have Postponed Until Friday A Decision On Whether To Attend Peace Talks Due To Start In Geneva The Same Day, Delegates Said.

“I Believe Tomorrow We Will Take A Decision” On Whether Or Not To Attend The UN-Brokered Negotiations, Said One Delegate From The Saudi-Backed High Negotiations Committee.

“We Will Not Be In Geneva Tomorrow,” Said Another Opposition Source.

The Committee Was Formed In December When The Main Syrian Political Opposition And Armed Factions Came Together In Riyadh For An Unprecedented Bid At Unity, After Months Of Saudi Effort.

It Insists That It Is The Sole Permitted Representative Of Syria’s Opposition, Despite Objections From Others.

The Committee Has Met For Three Days In The Saudi Capital To Discuss Whether Or Not To Participate In The Geneva Process.

It Had Said It Was Waiting For UN “Clarifications” After The UN Issued Invitations To Other Opposition Figures.

But Delegate Monzer Makhos Told AFP That Members “Would Not Be There” In Geneva For The Planned Start Of Talks “As We Have Yet To Make A Decision”.

The Committee Wants Assurances From The International Community That It Will Move To End Regime Attacks On Civilians And Allow Humanitarian Aid.

The Riyadh Discussions Were To Resume At 0600 GMT On Friday, The Delegate Said.

Khawla Mattar, Spokeswoman For The UN-Mediated Talks Between The Syrian Government And Opposition, Said Thursday There Would Be “No Postponement From Our Side”.

(Source / 28.01.2016)

Written by altahrir

January 28, 2016 at 10:07 pm

Posted in Revolution Syria

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Nine Civilians Killed in Regime Airstrikes on Rural Homs Today

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Activists in Homs said that the Assad regime’s air force intensified aerial bombardment on northern rural Homs earlier today, leaving dozens of civilian casualties and causing massive destruction in the area.

Activists in the area said that one of the airstrikes targeted the town of Al-Ghanto in the early hours of Thursday, killing nine civilians and wounding many more, including women and children.

Other airstrikes also hit the towns of Rastan and Talbeesah, with reports of civilian casualties and massive destruction in the residential neighborhoods.

The escalating aerial bombardment on northern rural Homs coincided with ground attacks by regime forces seeking to encircle the area, particularly the Al-Houla area, and cut the rebels’ last supply lines. Northern rural Homs already suffers from lack of food and medical supplies as a result of the regime’s blockade of most of the roads leading to the area.

Meanwhile, clashes resumed today between regime forces and rebel fighters on the fronts of Um Sharshouh, Talbeesah and Rastan, amid renewed attempts by regime forces to advance on the town of Harbnafsah and complete the encirclement of Al-Houla.
(Source: Syrian Coalition / 28.01.2016)

Written by altahrir

January 28, 2016 at 9:04 pm

Posted in Revolution Syria

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Al-Qassam: We lost contact with an elite group in a tunnel

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GAZA, (PIC)– Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, has announced that it has lost contact with an elite unit of its fighters inside a tunnel after its collapse in the Gaza Strip.

In a brief press release, the Brigades stated that the incident happened on Wednesday night as a result of the bad weather conditions.

A rescue mission has been launched to find and save the fighters, and there is hope they are still alive, according to the Brigades.

(Source / 28.01.2016)

Written by altahrir

January 28, 2016 at 8:54 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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No non-Syrians invited to peace negotiations, says UN

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UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura (AFP photo)

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura

The United Nations says no non-Syrians have been invited to upcoming peace negotiations aimed at finding a solution to the deadly conflict in the Arab country.

The announcement, which was made on Wednesday, came a day after Turkey suggested that it would be part of the talks that are scheduled for Friday.

On Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara would “boycott” the meeting in case the Syrian Kurdish group, Democratic Union Party (PYD), was invited.

Ankara accuses the PYD and its military wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), of links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region inside Turkey since the 1980s.

Khawla Mattar, a spokeswoman for the UN’s Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, said there was “no plan to invite” non-Syrians in response to a question about the possible inclusion of observer delegations from Turkey, Russia, the United States or France.

The official, however, refused to reveal which parties were asked to attend the talks.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, meanwhile, has called for the participation of Kurds in the peace talks and insisted that the meeting would not be successful if Kurdish representatives are not invited.

To attend or not to attend?

The development comes as Syria’s so-called opposition backed by Saudi Arabia is yet to decide whether to take part in the Friday meeting.

The group that calls itself High Negotiations Committee (HNC) met in the Saudi capital city of Riyadh for a second day on Wednesday to discuss its participation in the talks.

The foreign-backed group that was formed last month in a bid to unite Syria’s foreign-backed opposition, wants to be the sole opposition delegation in Geneva. It has demanded “clarifications” after the UN issued invitations to other opponents.

The meeting was supposed to be held on Monday but it was postponed over the issue of who will represent the so-called opposition.

The Committee has also set other conditions for taking part in the negotiations including the lifting of the Syrian government’s siege on areas held by the foreign-backed militants.

Mattar, however, stressed that there were “no preconditions” attached to joining the talks, suggesting the HNC could not view the guest list before deciding whether to come to Geneva.

Damascus has already announced its readiness to attend the talks, with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov saying on Wednesday that Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem would head the government delegation.

“An invitation from De Mistura was sent to Walid al-Muallem as head of the government delegation,” Gatilov was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

Elsewhere in his comments, the official added that the PYD might take part in a later stage of the peace talks in Geneva, but has not been invited to the first round of discussions.

The UN Security Council last December adopted a resolution, calling for a nationwide ceasefire in Syria and the formation of a “credible, inclusive and non-sectarian” government within six months.

The Syrian conflict, which began in March 2011, has reportedly claimed the lives of more than 260,000 people, and displaced almost eight million others.

(Source / 27.01.2016)

Written by altahrir

January 27, 2016 at 10:52 pm

Posted in Revolution Syria

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Tunisia says breaks up militant cell linked to ISIS

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Police officers secure the area where a bus exploded Tuesday in Tunis, Wednesday Nov.25, 2015

Tunisian police have broken up a cell recruiting fighters for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Libya and Syria, authorities said on Wednesday.

Tunisia declared a state of emergency after a suicide bombing killed 12 presidential guards on a bus in the capital Tunis in November.

That followed major gun attacks targeting foreign tourists at a Tunis museum and a beach hotel, both of which were claimed by ISIS.

“Our special forces counter-terrorism unit dismantled a cell which included nine extremists in Bizerte who were actively recruiting young people to send them into areas of trouble,” the interior ministry said.

It said those arrested had admitted recruiting for ISIS in Libya and Syria.

Tunisia, mostly a haven of stability since its 2011 revolt against autocrat Zine Abidine Ben Ali, is increasingly being challenged by Islamist militants, who have hit army patrols and checkpoints as well as carrying out major attacks.

Several thousand Tunisians are fighting with ISIS and other groups in Iraq and Syria. The gunmen in the Sousse and Bardo Museum attacks all trained at militant camps in Libya before returning to their home country.

(Source / 27.01.2016)

Written by altahrir

January 27, 2016 at 10:46 pm

Posted in Revolution Tunisia

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Syrian opposition’s Manna says no peace talks without Kurds

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) – The co-leader of the Syrian Democratic Council, Haytham Manna,

on Wednesday he would not take part in peace talks in Geneva unless two Kurdish leaders, Saleh Muslim and Ilham Ahmed, were also invited to participate.”I’ll go with my friends or not (at all). There is no compromise in this question,” Manna told Reuters a day after the U.N. envoy to Syria, Staffan De Mistura, sent invitations to join the talks, without including the Kurdish leaders.”We have one day and tomorrow perhaps also to negotiate all of these things with the Russians, the Americans and De Mistura’s staff. We’ll see if they accept our opinion, our view to have really a strong and representative delegation, we are ready to go.”Deciding who among Syria’s fractured opposition should attend the talks has become the main stumbling block to the first attempt at a peace negotiation in two years. There is no sign of an end to the war pitting a range of rebel groups against President Bashar al-Assad’s government after almost five years and more than 250,000 deaths.Manna is not part of the main opposition delegation, which was formed at a meeting in Saudi Arabia and has yet to say if it will take part in the peace talks. Its leaders have said Syria must stop bombing civilian areas and allow humanitarian aid access before any peace negotiations can take place.But Russia, Assad’s main backer, had demanded that the opposition representation was widened beyond the Saudi-backed group, some of whom it regards as terrorists. De Mistura invited Manna and other opposition leaders who had Moscow’s blessing.But Muslim, co-leader of the Kurdish PYD party, told Reuters on Tuesday he had not been invited to the Geneva talks.The PYD is fighting Islamic State and has enjoyed military support from the United States but is regarded by Turkey as part of a terrorist movement.French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said De Mistura had told him that Syrian Kurdish officials would not be invited,and negotiations for the opposition will be led by the Saudi-backed opposition group.Manna said that leaving out Muslim and Ahmed had left the invitees looking like “the Russian delegation”.”And I’m not ready to be a member of the Russian delegation. We have the right to have our own delegation,” Manna said.

(Source / 27.01.2016)

Written by altahrir

January 27, 2016 at 10:25 pm

Posted in Revolution Syria

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