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Syrian Coalition: Assad & Russia Crimes in Aleppo “Coup de Grace” to the Truce

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The Syrian Coalition said that the horrific massacres the Assad regime and Russia have recently committed in Aleppo represent a coup de grace to the truce, stressing that the regime’s and Russia’s intensifying brutal attacks on Aleppo constitute a war crime.

During an ongoing meeting of the Syrian Coalition’s General Assembly, vice-president of the Coalition Muwaffaq Nyrabiya said that the UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura warned that the cessation of hostilities agreement is in “grave peril” in his latest briefing to the UN Security Council. De Mistura also said that the agreement needs to be “revitalized” before the launch of a new round of negotiations.

Nyrabiya asked how it was possible to “talk about any political approach to resolving the conflict amidst these barbaric, systematic crimes against the Syrian people?”

“The international community should realize that the silence on such massacres and violations constitutes complicity in these crimes,” Nyrabiya added. “The international community has to bear the consequences of its silence as such silence directly caused the emergence of ISIS; contributed to the spread of terrorism in the world; exacerbated the refugee crises; impeded a political solution and encouraged the murderous Assad regime to carry on with committing the most heinous massacres in modern history.”

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 29.04.2016)

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April 29, 2016 at 7:55 pm

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Egyptian MP says forcing Sinai residents to move will only worsen terrorism

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Trucks filled with personal belongings leave the border areas in North Sinai, where Egyptian authorities were battling insurgents between el-Arish and the border town of Rafah, May 25, 2015

CAIRO — In recent weeks there have been disputes among members of Egypt’s parliament over calls to relocate residents of the North Sinai governorate amid an escalation in the war between the country’s armed forces and extremist groups. Parliamentarians representing Sinai, headed by Salama Al-Roqie, have expressed their opposition to any effort to displace residents of this region.

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Roqie stated that the displacement of Sinai citizens will increase the spread of terrorism, arguing that the presence of citizens in the area prevents unknown people from infiltrating it and carrying out attacks. The lawmaker also highlighted the role of tribes in supporting the armed forces in the war against extremists, saying that the tribes have always been “very cooperative with the Egyptian state in all its wars.”

Below is the text of the interview:

Al-Monitor:  Why do you oppose the calls of some parliament members to relocate residents of Sinai?

Roqie:  Displacement should only happen during wars or natural disasters. It is not acceptable when citizens are settled in a certain place, whether in Sinai or border regions. The constitution rejects displacement, and it even calls on the state to return the Nubians to their original territories following their displacement. Sinai citizens can deter aggression against Egypt, and history stands witness to that.

Al-Monitor:  You have said that expelling Sinai residents will lead to an increase in terrorism. Can you explain why you believe this to be true?

Roqie:  Urban wars are the worst due to land elevations, geography and overpopulation. The presence of citizens ensures the absence of strangers. If the people are displaced, the strangers entering Sinai will have freedom to move around. The presence of citizens guarantees that strangers won’t infiltrate Sinai.

Al-Monitor:  Parliament member Hamdy Bakheet has called for evacuating Sinai for one year to completely eliminate extremist groups that hide among residents to carry out attacks. What is your response to this?

Roqie:  We reject displacement, regardless of its duration. This is not the solution to eradicate terrorism. If terrorist group members blend in with citizens, then they will surely go with them wherever they go. But if the extremists are in mountainous areas, the armed forces can fight them in cooperation with Sinai citizens.

Al-Monitor:  Has the state indicated that it is considering such measures?

Roqie:  No. There hasn’t been any official statement asserting that the state wants to displace Sinai citizens. There have only been unofficial statements from parliamentarians, public figures or experts.

Al-Monitor:  What is the position of Sinai’s tribes on the battle between the Egyptian army and extremist groups in Sinai?

Roqie:  The Sinai tribes were very cooperative with the Egyptian state in all its wars, including the 1967 and 1973 wars with Israel. They also provide information to the concerned parties. We refuse to doubt the cooperation of Sinai citizens with the armed forces, because the country’s stability is in our interest.

Al-Monitor:  The constitution calls for developing border areas, including Sinai. Has the state made efforts to achieve this?

Roqie:  The development cycle was slow in the wake of the liberation of Sinai from the Israeli aggression. The state set a development plan in 1994 and allocated a budget of 75 billion Egyptian pounds [$22 billion at the exchange rate at the time] for it. Egypt succeeded in establishing constitutional infrastructure for North Sinai, but some projects were hampered for many reasons, such as the simultaneous work on major projects, including the Toshka Project. Currently, expansion works are underway in Sharq al-Tafria and roads are being built parallel to the province, in addition to 27 development complexes and several projects to develop Sinai. This shows that the state insists on developing Sinai.

Al-Monitor:  Is it feasible for the state to promote development in the midst of a violent battle between the army and terrorist groups?

Roqie:  The armed forces are fighting extremist groups in a small area that barely represents 1% of North Sinai. All areas in the province are safe and far from the clashes, which will soon end in favor of the state. Therefore, development is essential to limit unemployment and solve problems that the citizens of North Sinai are facing. It will not be hampered by the terrorist operations that the armed forces are brilliantly fighting.

Al-Monitor:  How can parliament help to alleviate the problems facing Sinai residents while supporting the state’s efforts to eliminate terrorism there?

Roqie:  The government is constitutionally responsible for creating a plan for socio-economic development in border areas and Upper Egypt in cooperation with citizens of these areas through committees or through the parliament to find out their ambitions and desires. This requires a law from the government or parliament to implement the constitution. The parliament will work in this direction, and we will organize delegations to visit the border areas, such as Sinai, to listen to the inhabitants’ problems.

Al-Monitor:  When will the parliamentary delegation visit North Sinai, after its visit was delayed for security reasons?

Roqie:  The parliament organized delegations to visit all border regions to implement the constitution and research people’s problems and include them in the government’s program. The delegations were supposed to visit Halayeb, Shalatin and Nuba. But the visit was delayed until the security situation stabilizes in North Sinai because the members of the delegation want to visit all the regions in the province to listen to the people’s problems. No specific date was set, but the members of the delegation are willing to go through with it in good time.

(Source / 28.04.2016)

Written by altahrir

April 28, 2016 at 9:27 pm

Posted in Revolution Egypt

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Systematic Assad Regime Cessation of Hostilities Violations

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Russia and the United States announced the Syrian Cessation of Hostilities (CoH) agreement in a joint statement on February 27, 2016 which excluded, of course, the Islamic State and Jabhat Al Nusra. However, Assasd regime forces and militias loyal to the regime failed to abide by the terms of the ceasefire agreement. Assad regime forces violated the agreement many times, and quite often with Russian air support, striking Syrian revolutionary forces in a majority of the provinces. As of April 19, 2016 there 1180 confirmed Assad regime violations. (See figure 1).

(Figure 1)

There were also 388 arrests and 10 humanitarian convoys were prevented from reaching their destinations in the same time period.
Regime violations are classified as follows:
1.    Violations of Attrition: Such violations occurred as a preparation for future regime offensive operations where the immediate objective was to deal significant blows to revolutionary forces or to simply make Assad forces’ presence known and especially not forgotten. These violations occurred in Alppo, Idleb, Hama, Northern Rural Homs, parts of Western Ghouta, and Dara’a. The violations included air strikes, explosive barrels, missile strikes, mortar strikes, artillery fire, and in some places instances of sniping. The violations were random and there is no clear objective that explains them other than random acts of violence.
2.    Strategic Violations: The Assad regime used these violations in a strategic manner attacking specific targets to either besiege a location, or as a continuation of the Russian military strategy – preventing Syrian revolutionary forces from maintaining control of any front line operations against the Islamic State; or they used the battlefield for political reasons, just as we saw with the massacres in Kafr Nubul and Muarat Al Numaan in Idleb on April 19, 2016. These massacres occurred as a type of message from the Assad regime in response to the Higher Negotiation Committee’s position on pulling out of the Geneva talks.   The Assad regime committed similar violations in southern rural Aleppo, Rural Lattakia, and Eastern Ghouta (Al Marj District) as is explained below:

Southern Rural Aleppo:

Syrian revolutionary forces and other Islamist forces responded to Assad regime mortar and artillery fire at Al Eis Hill, as well as the towns of Bans and Hadiya in southern rural Aleppo at the start of April, with a counter offensive that succeeded at retaking several locations including Al Eis Hill, Abu Ruwayl, Marqas.
In response, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard sent its 65th Airborne Brigade of the Special Forces to Syria to participate in these particular battles in southern Aleppo. Those forces failed to retake the positions that the Syrian revolutionary forces and other Islamist forces took as of the date of publication of this report.
After the fact, Syrian and Russian officials blamed Syrian revolutionary forces for committing CoH violations in southern Aleppo. However, there were reports that put the blame on the Assad regime and Russia. Syrian revolutionary forces maintain that their operations in the area were not CoH violations but a legitimate response to Assad regime artillery and mortar fire, as was mentioned before.

Rural Lattakia:

In February 2016, Assad regime forces, with Russian ground and air support, took control of Kan Saba, the last place the Assad regime advanced too in Rural Lattakia. However, following both the regime’s advance and the announcement of the CoH, regime forces and Russian fighter jets continued attacking positions close to Kan Saba with mortar fire on Al Sirmania and Al Kabani. Air strikes also targetted the main road that connects rural Lattakia with Jisr Al Sughoor in Idleb. The Assad regime’s strategy behind such violations is to take advantage of the CoH and complete two key objectives: securing a route to Jisr Al Shughoor and securing strategic military positions in the Al Ghab Plains. As Assad regime CoH violations increased the Syrian revolutionary forces formed a joint operation room to respond to the violations with a multi front attack in regime positions: Khirbet Al Naqoos, Khashba, Al Bayda.

Eastern Rural Ghouta (Al Marj Distritct):

Eastern rural Ghouta’s Al Marj District experienced extremely violent air and ground attacks during the CoH. Assad regime forces committed several violations there; the most violent of which was an attack on a school in Tal Al Asafir on March 31, 2016 where 37 were killed and more than 40 injured.
Al Marj District is comprised of many positions controlled by Syrian revolutionary forces blocking the Assad regime’s ability to advance into the strategic Eastern Ghouta. Al Nashibiya is 25 KM from Damascus and forms the western portion of Eastern Ghouta and meets the southern boundary of Douma and its surroundings at Shayfouniya and Hywash or “Hosh Nasri Al Dhawahira”; and finally from the east near the syrian desert Eastern Ghouta meets Utayba, Dmair, and Widyan Al Rabi’. The Assad regime aims to accomplish the following objectives through its operations in Marj District:
1.    Take control of the largest amount of territory in Marj District especially in the open farming land and the regime pefers fighting in such areas since they are more effective in these locations while Syrian revolutionary forces are more effecting in urban environments.
2.    As a result of possible regime advances in the mentioned areas Eastern Ghouta will potentially lose its main source of food and the main reason for their ability to wait out the ongoing siege.
3.    Completely securing Damascus International Airport Highway and preventing even Katyusha Rockets from reaching the airport.

Source: Special Military Report No: 003 /  Omran for Strategic Studies  28.04.2016)

Written by altahrir

April 28, 2016 at 8:58 pm

Posted in Revolution Syria

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Assad’s Targeting of Hospitals a War Crime Backed by Russia & Iran

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The Syrian Coalition’s General Assembly strongly condemned the Assad regime’s bombing of Al-Quds Hospital in the neighborhood of Al-Suakkari in Aleppo on Wednesday. Over 30 people were killed in the airstrike that targeted the hospital, including a dentist and the last pediatrician in the city.

President of the Syrian Coalition Anas al-Abdah said that massacres the regime carried out over the past week in Idlib, Aleppo and Rural Damascus against civilians, civil defense centers, and hospitals prove without a shadow of doubt that that the Assad regime is not serious about engaging in a real political solution.

Speaking during the first session of the 28th General Assembly meeting which began earlier today and will last till Saturday, Abdah said that the Assad regime is keen on disrupting the political solution and determined to pursue a military solution with the help of Russia and Iran.

Abdah added that the Assad regime has effectively “buried the truce” after carrying out over 30 massacres and around 2,500 breaches of the truce by its forces as well as 165 by Russian forces. The international community, meanwhile, has largely remained silent over these massacres and violations, he added.

Abdah pointed out that the Syrian revolution is facing challenges at all levels, expressing hope that the current General Assembly meeting will produce an integrated action plan to address these challenges

Abdah referred to attempts by some international actors to derail the Syrian revolution away from its goals, pointing out that the Syrian armed and political opposition need, now more than ever before, to remain steadfast until the goals of the revolution are achieved.

The General Assembly will discuss the formation of a new interim government to be based in the liberated areas; increasing the representation of women in the Coalition; and co-opting FSA groups on to the ranks of the Coalition.

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 28.04.2016)

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April 28, 2016 at 7:53 pm

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Syrian Coalition Calls for Timetable for Lifting Sieges & Releasing Detainees

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The Syrian Coalition called on the International Syrian Support Group (ISSG) to work on establishing a timetable for lifting the blockades on besieged areas across Syria; ensuring the delivery of humanitarian aid to those in need and releasing detainees in Assad’s prisons.

At a meeting with representatives of the Friends of the Syrian People group on Wednesday, members of the Coalition’s political committee stressed the need for a timetable to achieve progress in the negotiations; for holding violators of the truce to account and for an effective mechanism to determine the sides responsible for obstructing the political process.

Representatives of the Friends of the Syrian People group showed understanding of the decision by the opposition’s High Negotiations Committee’s (HNC) to suspend participation in the Geneva negotiations as a result of the regime’s repeated violations, its hindering of the delivery of humanitarian aid and its refusal to release detainees. The political committee said there has been an increasingly large number of massacres and crimes committed by the regime during the latest round of negotiations.

The meeting touched on the suggestion made by Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel to establish a safe area in Syria during a visit to Syrians’ refugee camps in southern Turkey accompanied by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and a delegation from the Syrian Coalition and the HNC.

At the end of the meeting, the political committee gave a brief overview of the issues on the agenda for the Coalition’s General Assembly meeting due to begin on Thursday. The General Assembly meeting will discuss forming a new interim government based in liberated areas in order to provide services to the civilian population in those areas. It will also discuss increasing the representation of women  in the Syrian Coalition and co-opt FSA groups on to the ranks of the Coalition.

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 27.04.2016)

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April 27, 2016 at 7:59 pm

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Journalists arrested in Egypt, others banned from reaching protest

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Egyptian security forces

File photo of Egyptian security forces

The Egyptian security forces yesterday arrested three journalists in front of the Journalists’ Syndicate building in central Cairo, and prevented others from reaching the area ahead of protests against Egypt’s transfer of sovereign control of the Red Sea Islands Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia.

Journalist Osama Daoud, who monitors abuses suffered by journalists, told the Anadolu Agencythat the security forces arrested journalists; Basma Mustafa, Ashraf Al-Shamm’a and Mustafa Redha and prevented journalist Mohamed Abdul Quddus from entering the headquarters.

Daoud said the syndicate is communicating with the ministry of interior to release the three journalists and to allow reporters to enter the syndicate.

He explained that the security apparatus has installed metal barricades on the roads leading to the Journalists’ Syndicate and prevented citizens from crossing.

The Egyptian security forces yesterday increased their presence in downtown Cairo to block protests called for by political and opposition forces against the deal.

(Source / 26.04.2016)

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April 26, 2016 at 7:10 pm

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Syrian Coalition Calls for ISSG Meeting to Press Assad to Abide by UNSC 2254

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The Syrian Coalition called on the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) to hold a meeting to force the Assad regime to implement Articles 12 and 13 of the UN Security Council resolution 2254 concerning the improvement of the humanitarian situation in Syria.

The Coalition also called on the ISSG to develop mechanisms in order to hold violators of the truce to account.

In a meeting with ISSG representatives for development and the economy in the Turkish city of Gaziantep on Tuesday, the Coalition’s president Anas al-Abdah said that the revolution’s political and military forces expect a serious response by the international community towards the Assad regime’s daily violations of the truce.

Abda pointed out that the political process in Geneva is now at stake, adding that the Assad regime continues to bomb civilians, refuses to lift the blockades on the besieges areas, hinder the delivery of humanitarian aid and refuses to release detainees.

Abda said that the Syrian people now feel they have been abandoned by the international community whose response to the political process and humanitarian situation in Syria has fallen short of meeting the Syrian people’s needs.

Abdah stressed the need for supporting the Syrian interim government and the Assistance Coordination Unit (ACU) as the executive branches of the Coalition. He added that these two bodies are under restructuring with the aim to increase efficiency to better serve the Syrian people.

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 26.04.2016)

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April 26, 2016 at 6:56 pm

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