"And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness, the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us. But let me not be too proud of my safety. Even a Thief in a jail is safe from another thief. "

Khalil Gibran (How I Became a Madman)

Lübnan Marunîleri / Yasin Atlıoğlu


Friday, January 30, 2015

Moscow Syria talks end without results- Daily Star

MOSCOW: Representatives of Syrian President Bashar Assad and opposition figures agreed at talks Thursday to hold another round in Moscow, moderator Vitaly Naumkin said Thursday, but no date was set.
The talks, a Russian initiative to revive stalled peace efforts in Syria’s 4-year-old civil war, were shunned by the main Syrian political opposition, and participants came together to adopt a series of points that largely represent Russia’s own position on the violence. Moscow is a key backer of Assad.
Naumkin, an academic, said the sides agreed to join forces over the threat of terrorism in Syria, where ISIS insurgents have taken over wide swathes of territory, though Moscow has described numerous other anti-Assad groups fighting in the country as “terrorists.”
“The issue of fighting terrorism was one of the key themes discussed. This is exactly what brings the sides together as a key challenge to Syria’s territorial integrity and unity,” Naumkin said.
He said the talks offered the best chance at reaching another round of peace negotiations between the government and opposition in Geneva. The latest round of Geneva talks, the Geneva II conference, was held early last year.

Syria's President Speaks: Behind the Scenes With Jonathan Tepperman- Foreign Affairs

The civil war in Syria will soon enter its fifth year, with no end in sight. On January 20, Foreign Affairs managing editor Jonathan Tepperman met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus to discuss the conflict in an exclusive interview. Read the full interview here.


IŞİD'in Kerkük saldırısını anlamak (Serhat Erkmen- Al-Jazeera Turk)

Kerkük 29 Ocak 2015 gecesi son ayların en büyük IŞİD saldırısına sahne oldu. Gece yarısı sisten yararlanarak üç koldan saldırıya geçen Irak Şam İslam Devleti (IŞİD), çatışmaların uzun süreden beri aralıklarla sürdüğü Molla Abdullah bölgesini ele geçirdi. Gece yarısı Kürt yönetimine bağlı peşmerge güçlerine yönelik ani baskınla şehir merkezinde bazı noktaları kontrol eden IŞİD, peşmergenin en önemli komutanlarından General Şirko Fatih’i de öldürdü. Çeşitli yerlerden gelen yüzlerce peşmergenin Kerkük’e girmesiyle IŞİD, şehir merkezinden çıkarılsa da 30 Ocak sabahında Kerkük’te meydana gelen bombalı saldırılar şehrin hâlâ ciddi güvenlik sorunlarıyla karşı karşıya olduğunu gösteriyor.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Moscow talks only chance for Syria settlement: Russian official- Asharq Alawsat English

Moscow, Asharq Al-Awsat—Moscow is the only place where the Syrian opposition and the government of President Bashar Al-Assad can negotiate a political settlement for the Syrian conflict, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov toldAsharq Al-Awsat on Wednesday.
Members of various Syrian opposition factions gathered in the Russian capital on Monday in an attempt to find common ground ahead of their meeting with representatives of the Damascus government scheduled for January 29.
The majority of participants are members of Syria-based opposition groups tolerated by the government. The Syrian National Coalition, an umbrella organization of exiled opposition groups, rejected Russia’s invitation earlier this month on the grounds that it is a staunch backer of Assad.
Despite this setback, Bogdanov maintained that talks in Moscow represent the best chance for a negotiated solution to the crisis in Syria, which has seen millions of Syrians displaced and at least 200,000 killed since 2011, according to UN estimates.
“Moscow is the only place in the world that can bring together all opposition factions [including the Muslim Brotherhood] and the Syrian government,” Bogdanov said. Unlike the Friends of Syria group, which only invites the Western-backed coalition to its meetings, Russia has called on almost all opposition factions from across the spectrum, he maintained.

Rockets fall on Damascus- Al-Monitor

DAMASCUS, Syria — In the city of Hamouriya in eastern Ghouta, Rif Dimashq governorate, Jan. 23 was no ordinary day. Syrian military aircraft attacked a crowded marketplace and killed 60 civilians, including children and women. Afterward, the market was hit by mortar shells in the heaviest bombardment in the city since the Hamouriya massacre on Feb. 20, 2013, which resulted in the deaths of 100 civilians.

Lavrov: Post-crisis Syria will be stable, sovereign, secular, and prosperous country- SANA

Moscow, SANA – Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia is committed to resolving the crisis in Syria and will continue to provide all sorts of aid to the Syrians to help realize the unity of their people and to strengthen steadfastness of the Syrian state in confronting terrorism and building a new future.
During his meeting with delegations of the Syrian government and opposition figures in Moscow on Wednesday, Lavrov said “we are open to all sides that seek to help launch a political process in Syria on the basis of the UN Charter.”
He asserted that that Russia’s stance regarding what happened in Syria is principled and firm, and that it supports finding a solution by the Syrians themselves on the basis of the first Geneva Communiqué.
The Russian Foreign Minister said that Syria is going through a difficult stage, with thousands dead and millions leaving the country, while terrorists and extremists from all over the world gather in Syria, adding that Russia is certain that after overcoming the crisis, Syria will regain stability as a sovereign, secular state that enjoys territorial integrity and prosperity.
He said that realizing these goals can only be done by employing a political solution in a manner specified by the Syrians and the Syrians alone, noting that all Syrians are aware of the risk posed by imposing foreign solutions that reflect geopolitical ambitions of other countries.
Addressing the delegations, Lavrov said that they are the ones that truly love Syria because they put its interests above personal considerations and gains and met to find a way to restore peace to their country, voicing satisfaction over Russia’s success in organizing this meeting.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Three rounds of Moscow consultative meeting held, further meetings Thursday- SANA

Moscow, SANA – Three rounds of discussions were held on Wednesday between the delegation of the Syrian government and that of the opposition figures in the framework of the Russian-hosted consultative meeting in the Russian capital Moscow. The meetings were concluded in the evening, and will resume at 10 am on Thursday.
During the third round, the government’s delegation criticized the opposition delegation for refraining from mentioning the Turkish, Qatari, Saudi, U.S., and Israeli roles in the crisis in Syria.
The delegation said that those who want to take part in inter-Syrian dialogue without foreign interference are welcome to come to Damascus, adding that the Syrian government supports moderate figures, but not the armed so-called “moderate opposition” sponsored by the United States, as all those who bear arms outside the framework of the state are terrorists.
The delegation also voiced solidarity with the Russian government and people in the wake of the terrorist attack on the Russian Embassy in Damascus which took place on Wednesday.
At the beginning of the first round, the participants observed a moment of silence in honor of the souls of Syria’s martyrs, both military members and civilians, upon a request by the government delegation.
Syria’s UN Permanent Representative Bashar al-Jaafari, who is heading the government’s delegation, delivered a speech at the opening of discussions in which he stressed that the consultative meeting should not be a form of grandstanding.
“Our consultative meeting should be a serious platform to reflect the goal of the meeting, which comes amid a lot of suffering, losses and challenges facing our dear homeland,” said al-Jaafari.
He stressed that the Syrian government has since the outset of the crisis been doing everything necessary to protect the citizens and homeland.
The government, he added, “has been open to dialogue with everybody, and has assumed its constitutional responsibilities.”

At least 22 shells fired from Israel hit southern Lebanon: source- Reuters

(Reuters) - At least 22 shells fired from Israel hit open farmland in southern Lebanon close to the frontier, a Lebanese security source in the area said on Wednesday.
The shells struck near Wazzani village and were fired in quick succession.
Earlier in the day an anti-tank missile was fired at an Israeli military vehicle near the frontier with Lebanon, an Israeli army spokesman said.

Tensions have escalated in the frontier area linking Lebanon,Israel and Syria in the past ten days since an Israeli air strike on a Hezbollah convoy near the Golan Heights which killed an Iranian Revolutionary Guard general, a Hezbollah commander and the son of the group's late military leader.

UN peacekeeper killed after Hezbollah-Israel clash- BBC News

The UN says a peacekeeper has been killed in Lebanon amid border clashes between Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and the Israeli army.
The UN urged "maximum restraint" from all parties to avoid further escalation.
Four Israeli soldiers were injured when an anti-tank missile hit an army vehicle in the disputed Shebaa Farms area, military officials said.
The Israeli army responded by firing shells into southern Lebanon.
The Israel Defence Forces said on Twitter that initial reports suggested that an anti-tank missile was fired at a military vehicle near Mt Dov.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted: "At this moment the IDF responds to events in the North. We will not allow terrorists to disrupt the lives of our citizens and threaten their security. We will respond forcefully those who try to challenge us."
Israel has ruled out the abduction of any troops.

Moscow hosts fractured Syrian opposition in attempt to break peace-talks deadlock- RT

Thirty members of the highly-fractured Syrian opposition are in Moscow for talks among themselves, as well as with Assad government representatives. The negotiations come almost a year after the last attempt to find a political solution to the crisis.
“We believe it would be wrong to miss this opportunity,” Majid Habbo, the secretary of the National Coordination Committee (NCC), one of the Syrian opposition groups taking part in the Moscow talks told RT.
Habbo has praised the Russian initiative is essential in terminating the “post-Geneva stagnation period, which has seen a rise in military tension.”

Israeli soldiers injured in Hezbollah missile attack- Al-Jazeera

Hezbollah has claimed responsibility for an anti-tank missile fired at an Israeli military vehicle in Shebaa farms on the border with Syria and Lebanon.
Reports of Israeli casualties were conflicting, with Israeli media reports saying four soldiers were wounded as a result of the attack, while other sources said four were killed and several more injured in Wednesday's strike.
The Israeli government has yet to confirm any casualties.
In response to the attack, Israeli forces fired shells across the border into southern Lebanon. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) confirmed that Israeli shelling had killed one of its peacekeepers from Spain. 

Lebanon's top jihadi fugitive says left Palestinian refugee camp- Daily Star

BEIRUT: Lebanon's top jihadi fugitive Shadi Mawlawi announced on his Twitter account Wednesday that he had left the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh.
“Thank God, with whose care, we have escaped the hands of the tyrants and their dogs, and we have pushed away their sights and their hearts,” Mawlawi said in a tweet.
“But let the tyrants and their [partisans] know that we will not let him enjoy peaceful life and security until our brothers and sisters exit prisons and glory comes back to the Sunni people.”
Mawlawi’s tweets came one day after Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said Mawlawi “is in the Arsal area with the Nusra Front.”

Geagea Slams Hizbullah's Shebaa Attack as Jumblat Predicts Turbulent Phase ahead- Naharnet

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea and Progressive Socialist Party chief MP Walid Jumblat were quick to react on Wednesday to Hizbullah's attack against an Israeli military vehicle in the Shebaa Farms, warning that Lebanon is headed towards a “turbulent” period.
Geagea said during a press conference: “Hizbullah does not have the right to involve the Lebanese army and government in a battle with Israel.”
“The cabinet and parliament should decide such affairs,” he added.
He warned that the Shebaa attack will have “dangerous repercussions on the Lebanese government and people and it could also have consequences on the army.”
Hizbullah claimed responsibility for the attack against an Israeli military vehicle in the occupied Shebaa Farms that left at least six Israeli soldiers wounded.

IS hostages: Jordan in pilot exchange offer after Goto video- BBC News

Jordan says it is willing to hand over an Iraqi woman on death row in exchange for a Jordanian pilot being held by Islamic State (IS) militants.
The offer comes ahead of a 24-hour deadline by IS to kill Moaz al-Kasasbeh and Japanese hostage Kenji Goto.
The ultimatum came in a video aired on Tuesday, days after IS said it had killed a Japanese man, Haruna Yukawa. It had demanded a $200m (£130m) ransom.
Sajida al-Rishawi is an al-Qaeda militant sentenced to death in Jordan.
She was convicted for her involvement in a 2005 attack that killed 60 people.
"Jordan is ready to release prisoner Sajida al-Rishawi if the Jordanian pilot Lt Moaz al-Kasasbeh was released and his life spared," Jordanian government spokesman Mohammad al-Momani said, according to Jordanian state television.

Russia's Lavrov says fighting "terrorism" should unite Syrian opposition, Damascus- Daily Star

MOSCOW: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged members of the Syrian opposition and representatives from Damascus at peace talks in Moscow Wednesday to join forces to combat the threat of "terrorism."
Expectations of a breakthrough in Moscow are low, but Russia hopes the talks will give some impetus to a long-stalled peace process in the four-year conflict.
"We believe that the understanding by politicians and leading representatives of civil society of the necessity to join forces to combat this common threat [of terrorism] should become the key for the resurrection of the unity of the Syrian nation," Lavrov told both sides of the talks.

Syrian rival delegations meet in Moscow- Al-Arabiya

Syrian opposition figures and representatives of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad began talks in Moscow Wednesday aimed at restarting long-stalled peace negotiations to end the country’s brutal war.
The 32 members of various opposition groups tolerated by the authorities in Damascus and six members of the official Syrian delegation led by the ambassador to the United Nations Bashar Jaafari began their meeting at 0700 GMT, one of the opposition participants told AFP.
The Kremlin-sponsored talks were not expected to yield a major breakthrough as the main opposition group, the exiled National Coalition, has refused to attend.

Hezbollah hits Israeli convoy, kills 4 soldiers- Daily Star

MARJAYOUN, Lebanon: Hezbollah fighters attacked an Israeli military convoy Wednesday in the occupied Shebaa Farms, in south Lebanon, killing four soldiers, in retaliation for Israel's recent airstrike in the Golan Heights.
A U.N. peacekeeper was also killed in the heavy exchange of fire that followed the Hezbollah attack, UNIFIL's spokesperson told The Daily Star. Media reports said the peacekeeper was Spanish.
UNIFIL commander Maj. Gen. Luciano Portolano urged "maximum restraint" from all parties to prevent escalation on the Lebanese -Israeli frontier, Reuters reported.
For her part, U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag urgently called on all parties "to refrain from any actions that could destabilise the situation further." "All parties are strongly urged to continue to abide by their obligations under Security Council resolution 1701," Kaag said of the resolution that put an end to the 2006 summer war between Lebanon and Israel.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Future, Hezbollah vow full Army support in terror fight- Daily Star

BEIRUT: The Future Movement and Hezbollah agreed Monday to take “practical steps” aimed at bolstering stability as the country faces mounting threats from Syria-based jihadis holed up on the outskirts of the northeastern town of Arsal near the border with Syria.
The two rival influential parties also pledged full support for the Army and security forces in their battle against terrorism, in a clear allusion to ISIS and Nusra Front militants who have frequently attacked military outposts on Lebanon’s eastern frontier with Syria.

ISIS ‘defeated’ in Ain al-Arab, Diyala- Daily Star

BEIRUT/ISTANBUL: Kurdish militiamen drove ISIS from the Syrian town of Ain al-Arab and raised their flags Monday, an activist group and Syrian state media said, although Washington said the four-month battle was not yet over.
Across the border in Iraq, meanwhile, a top army officer announced troops had “liberated” Diyala province from ISIS jihadis.
In Syria, Kurdish claims of an advance in Ain al-Arab, known in Kurdish as Kobani, on the frontier with Turkey, marked the culmination of a battle lasting more than four months in which nearly 1,800 people were killed.

Monday, January 26, 2015

U.S.: Battle not over in Syria's Kobane- Naharnet

The United States said Monday the battle for control of the Syrian town of Kobane was continuing, despite claims by Kurdish leaders that their forces have recaptured the area from Islamic State jihadists.
Kurdish forces, backed up by U.S.-led coalition air strikes, had made progress in recent fighting but "Kobane remains contested," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
The IS group "has put a great deal of resources into Kobane," she told reporters. "They're clearly not succeeding, and we are pushing them back. But I don't have confirmation fully of it being a complete process."
The Pentagon also said it could not confirm accounts from Kurdish militia and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that Kurdish fighters had full control of the town near the Turkish border. 
"I'm not prepared to say the battle is won. The battle continues, but friendly forces have the momentum," spokesman Colonel Steve Warren told reporters.
Kurdish forces now controlled about 70 percent of the territory in and around Kobane, he said.

Beirut: Activists Protest Visa Restrictions on Syrian Refugees- Al-Akhbar

An assembly of organizations and activists gathered Saturday on the front steps of the National Museum in Beirut in protest of the Lebanese government’s recent decision to impose visa restrictions on Syrian refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria.
Approximately 80 people were present, holding banners such as “We refuse any sectarian intervention by the Lebanese powers in Syria” and “Let Lebanon be a warm and safe shelter for them all, and for their dreams of a free Syria: Dignity, Justice, and Humanity.”
“We were promised hundreds but only 70 or 80 showed up, this is disappointing but not unexpected,” one of the organizers said.
The protest was organized by various NGOs and political organizations such as the Socialist Forum, Sawt Al Niswa, Beirut Walls and others including independent activists.

Breaking: Syrian Army captures another Lebanese border-crossing- Al-Masdar News

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) – in cooperation with the National Defense Forces (NDF) and Hezbollah (Party of God) – has secured another border-crossing into Lebanon at the village of Kafeer Yabous (var. Jdeidat Yabous) in the Qudsayah District. The loyalist forces were able to capture this border-crossing after fierce clashes with the Al-Qaeda linked “Al-Nusra Front” (Jabhat Al-Nusra) on Monday morning.

Moscow: Lavrov could meet with both sides of Moscow forum on Syria on Wednesday- SANA

Moscow, SANA – Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the meetings on the crisis in Syria aim at providing an avenue for discussion among all Syrian sides, noting all the participating parties agree on the necessity of establishing peace and combating terrorism in Syria.
In a press conference on Monday, Lavrov said that the inter-Syrian meetings, which are held in Moscow on Monday and Tuesday with the participation of representatives of various opposition factions, aren’t talks, as these meetings seek to provide an avenue and a forum for discourse and discussions with representatives of the Syrian government who will join the meetings, with the goal of establishing direct contact.
He noted that there are no set tasks or goals for this meeting; rather it’s merely an effort to reinvigorate dialogue without conditions to pave the way towards resolving the crisis in Syria.
Lavrov stressed that Russia will continue its efforts along with Egypt and other countries that are interested in resolving the crisis in Syria peacefully, with the aim of creating conditions that permit launching comprehensive dialogue sponsored by the UN.
Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said Lavrov could participate in a meeting that would bring together representatives of the Syrian government and the “opposition” on Wednesday in Moscow.
Bogdanov, who is the Russian President’s Special Representative for the Middle East and Africa Affairs, told journalists in the Russian capital that if all the participants invited to the forum on both sides come to meet together, and there are constructive talks, then a meeting with the Foreign Minister could be planned.
He pointed out that 28 representatives of the “opposition” groups have arrived in Moscow so far. Those have already started consultations.

Syria's President Speaks: A Conversation With Bashar al-Assad- Foreign Affairs

The civil war in Syria will soon enter its fifth year, with no end in sight. On January 20, Foreign Affairs managing editor Jonathan Tepperman met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus to discuss the conflict in an exclusive interview.
I would like to start by asking you about the war. It has now been going on for almost four years, and you know the statistics: more than 200,000 people have been killed, a million wounded, and more than three million Syrians have fled the country, according to the UN. Your forces have also suffered heavy casualties. The war cannot go on forever. How do you see the war ending?
All wars anywhere in the world have ended with a political solution, because war itself is not the solution; war is one of the instruments of politics. So you end with a political solution. That’s how we see it. That is the headline.
You don’t think that this war will end militarily?
No. Any war ends with a political solution.
Your country is increasingly divided into three ministates: one controlled by the government, one controlled by ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, and one controlled by the more secular Sunni and Kurdish opposition. How will 

you ever put Syria back together again?
First of all, this image is not accurate, because you cannot talk about ministates without talking about the people who live within those states. The Syrian people are still with the unity of Syria; they still support the government. The factions you refer to control some areas, but they move from one place to another—they are not stable, and there are no clear lines of separation between different forces. Sometimes they mingle with each other and they move. But the main issue is about the population. The population still supports the state regardless of whether they support it politically or not; I mean they support the state as the representative of the unity of Syria. So as long as you have the Syrian people believing in unity, any government and any official can unify Syria. If the people are divided into two, three, or four groups, no one can unify this country. That’s how we see it.
You really think that the Sunnis and the Kurds still believe in a unified Syria?
If you go to Damascus now, you can see all the different, let’s say, colors of our society living together. So the divisions in Syria are not based on sectarian or ethnic grounds. And even in the Kurdish area you are talking about, we have two different colors: we have Arabs more than Kurds. So it’s not about the ethnicity; it’s about the factions that control certain areas militarily.
A year ago, both the opposition and foreign governments were insisting that you step down as a precondition to talks. They no longer are. Diplomats are now looking for an interim settlement that would allow you to keep a role. Just today,The New York Times had an article that talked about increased U.S. support for the Russian and UN peace initiatives. The article refers to “the West’s quiet retreat from its demands that Syria’s president step down immediately.” Given this shift in the Western attitude, are you now more open to a negotiated solution to the conflict that leads to a political transition?
From the very beginning, we were open. We engaged in dialogue with every party in Syria. Party doesn’t mean political party; it could be a party, a current, or some personality; it could be any political entity. We changed the constitution, and we are open to anything. But when you want to do something, it’s not about the opposition or about the government; it’s about the Syrians. Sometimes you might have a majority that doesn’t belong to any side. So when you want to make a change, as long as you’re talking about a national problem, every Syrian must have a say in it. When you have a dialogue, it’s not between the government and the opposition; it’s between the different Syrian parties and entities. That’s how we look at dialogue. This is first. Second, whatever solution you want to make, at the end you should go back to the people through a referendum, because you’re talking about the constitution, changing the political system, whatever. You have to go back to the Syrian people. So engaging in a dialogue is different from taking decisions, which is not done by the government or the opposition.
So you’re saying that you would not agree to any kind of political transition unless there is a referendum that supports it?
Exactly. The people should make the decision, not anyone else.

Full battlefield report from Aleppo City- Al-Masdar News

For the last 4 days, fierce clashes have engulfed northeast Aleppo, as contingents from the Islamic Front (Jabhat Al-Islamiyyah) and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) exchange blows with one another in an attempt to reclaim lost territory. This has become especially true in the Bani Zayd Quarter, where militants from ‘Ahrar Al-Sham and soldiers from the SAA continue to combat one another without either side making any significant gains.
On Sunday, the SAA – in cooperation with the Al-Ba’ath Brigades (Liwaa Al-Ba’ath) – attempted to infiltrate ‘Ahrar Al-Sham’s defenses at the Bani Zayd School District building; however, the attack was repelled after the loyalist forces were unable to breach the rebel frontlines due to significant gunfire and artillery shells that struck their pressing forces.
At the village of Sayfaat, militants from the Islamic Front attacked a National Defense Forces (NDF) checkpoint near the Salt Farms (Mazra’a Al-Malaah) in northeast Aleppo. The attack was repelled when the Syrian Arab Air Force (SAAF) assisted the embattled NDF fighters with their persistent bombardment of rebel positions. As a result, the Islamic Front militants were forced to withdraw from the checkpoint’s vicinity.
The Al-Qaeda linked “Al-Nusra Front” (Jabhat Al-Nusra) launched another attack on the Al-Zahra Associations Quarter in west Aleppo, targeting the Air Force Intelligence building and the Al-Rassoul Al-Adham Mosque. The militants have taken-up their positions on the outskirts of the Al-Zahra Quarter and they are in control of one of the entrances into this area.

Moscow set to host Syria talks amid opposition boycott- Al-Arabiya

Syrian opposition figures are set to begin on Monday four days of talks with the regime on finding ways to end the nearly four-year conflict, amid a boycott by the main exiled opposition bloc.
Moscow says the aim of the conference is to find ways to restart peace talks that collapsed in Geneva last year.
The war in Syria, which began in 2011 following peaceful protests calling for reforms and then the removal of Assad, has killed more than 200,000 people, according to the United Nations.
Russia’s longstanding proposals for a peace plan do not require Assad to leave power, which Assad's main opponents consider the basis for any talks.
Assad himself, speaking to a Czech magazine in an interview published earlier this month, said the purpose of the conference is to discuss “the unity of Syria, containing terrorist organization’s [and] supporting the army.”

ASSAD STATE OF AFFAIRS? (ft. Syrian author & activist Halla Diyab)- RT

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Syria UN envoy to head government team in Moscow talks- FRANCE 24

The Syrian ambassador to the United Nations, Bashar Jaafari, will head the government team in peace talks due to open in Moscow on Monday, a pro-government newspaper reported.
But the delegation will not join the talks until Wednesday, after two days of preliminary discussions among opposition participants, the Al-Watan newspaper reported.
Ahmed Arnus, a top adviser of Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, will be among six other members of the delegation.
"Opposition figures will meet together from Monday before the Syrian Arab Republic delegation joins them on Wednesday," the paper said.
"It is a consultative meeting to prepare the ground for a dialogue which will be held later in Moscow or Damascus."
The main exiled opposition alliance, the National Coalition, has announced it will not attend the Moscow talks, although some of its members are attending in a personal capacity.
"Any talks should be held in a neutral country and overseen by the United Nations," a Coalition source said, alluding to Moscow's strong support for the Damascus government.
Five Coalition members, including Ahmed Jarba, a former leader seen as close to Saudi Arabia, are attending in a personal capacity.
Members of opposition groups tolerated by the Damascus authorities are also travelling to Moscow.

U.S. ambivalence towards Moscow talks shows pressure easing on Syria's Assad- Reuters

(Reuters) - An ambivalent U.S. response to a Moscow peace conference on Syria, despite a firm boycott by the main opposition, shows how the fight against Islamic State fighters has reduced international pressure against President Bashar al-Assad.
Nearly four years into a war that has already killed more than 200,000 people and displaced millions, even the Russian hosts accept there is little chance of a breakthrough at the conference, which has been spurned by most opposition groups.
Moscow says the aim of the conference, which it is hosting from Monday, is to find ways to restart peace talks that collapsed in Geneva last year.
Russia's longstanding proposals for a peace plan do not require Assad to leave power, which Assad's main opponents consider the basis for any talks.

The United States - still publicly committed to removing Assad - might once have been expected to denounce a conference held on such a basis as a sham.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

At least 92 killed in Syrian military operations across country- Al-Akhbar

At least 92 people were killed Friday after Syrian military operations across the country, according to a written statement made by the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR).
Government forces attacked cities controlled by rebels, according to SNHR, which is based in London and opposes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The official Syrian news agency, SANA, said that the Syrian regime forces had killed a “large number of members of terrorist organizations” in operations in the countryside of Damascus and in other areas near Idlib. The Syrian government refers to all armed opponents as terrorists.
There were 61 people killed in the countryside of Damascus, five in Idlib, four in Homs and Hama respectively, three in Latakia and two in Quneitra, SNHR reported.
SANA said the army had killed 47 members of the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front near Quneitra. It also added that government forces had killed more than 50 “terrorists” in the provinces of Daraa, Sweida and Homs.
Regime air forces also intensively bombarded the areas of Douma, al-Humuriya, Darayya and Jobar in the Damascus area.

Syria opposition demands 'radical change'- Daily Star

CAIRO: Syria's opposition factions called Saturday for "radical democratic change" in the war-torn country ahead of April talks aimed at unifying their plan for a political solution to the conflict.
In a two-day conference held in Cairo, the regime-tolerated opposition met with members of the exiled National Coalition and agreed on a 10-point vision, as well as announcing fresh talks slated for April.
The groups agreed that "any negotiation process should lead to... a democratic regime and a sovereign civil state," according to a joint statement.
They added that any political solution to Syria's four-year civil war "must guarantee a radical democratic change that criminalises violence and sectarianism".
The National Coalition was informally represented in Cairo by several members, including Ahmed Jarba, a former coalition chief who is close to Saudi Arabia.
A Coalition source had earlier said its members were not attending the Cairo meet in an official capacity.
The next opposition general conference "aims at agreeing on a unified political vision and to unify the opposition's efforts," said Saleh al-Nebwani, member of the regime-tolerated domestic National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change.

Tens of terrorists, including Jabhat al-Nusra members, killed in several areas- SANA

Provinces, SANA – Units of the army and the armed forces eliminated large numbers of members of terrorist organizations amid large-scale military operations carried out across the country, including 47 Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists, who were killed in Quneitra.
Damascus Countryside
Army units established full control over the town of Kfeir Yabous, which is located southwest of al-Zabadani in Damascus Countryside, 11 km from the Lebanese borders, killing scores of terrorists in the process, most of them from Jabhet al-Nusra.
The army continued to advance in the direction of al-Zabadani’s western mountains, destroying several terrorist hideouts and killing many terrorists including Khaldoun Omar, Khaled al-Tinawi, Abdelhakim al-Maghrebi, Adel Kanaan, Rateb al-Haj, and Omeir al-Khous.
In the Eastern Ghouta, army units inflicted heavy losses on terrorists in a series of precise operations targeting their hideouts and concentrations near al-Rashid Mosque in Tal Kerdi farms and in al-Rihan farms southeast of Douma.
These operations resulted in the death of several terrorists including Kayed Shumari from Saudi Arabia, Salman Rashed al-Abdat from Jordan, Abdelrahman Taleb, Naeem Saymeh, and Fouad Damnawi.
In Douma itself, army units performed concentrated strikes on terrorist hideouts near Badran roundabout and near al-Huda Mosque, resulting in the death of a number of terrorists including Mufid al-Najjar, Mohammad Jerudi, Obada al-Qtaifani, Yasin al-Raslan, Abdelrahman al-Juaidani, and Alaa al-Jobarani.
In the southern part of Eastern Ghouta, an army units destroyed a weapons and ammo cache in Zebdin in al-Mleiha area, while other units prevented terrorists from advancing towards the railway in al-Bahariye town and towards al-Qasimiye town in al-Nashabiye area, leaving many of the terrorists dead or injured and destroying their weapons and ammo.
In al-Qalamoun area, an army unit clashed with a terrorist group near Martabaya crossing point in the wilderness of Qara, 11 kilometers from the Lebanese border across from the town of Irsal, leaving the group’s members dead or injured.
Army unit killed 47 members of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organization in Mas’hara town in the countryside of the southern province of Quneitra, a military source said.
SANA reporter quoted the source as saying that the terrorists known as Abo Youssef, Abo Abdo, Abo Ajaj and Abo Mus’ab al-Ghanouji were identified among the killed.

Suriye muhalefeti Kahire Bildirisi’ni yayımladı- TRT Haber

Mısır Dış İlişkiler Konseyi'nin daveti üzerine (sivil toplum kuruluşu) Kahire'de bir araya gelen Suriyeli muhalifler, 2 gün süren görüşmelerin ardından basın toplantısı düzenledi.
Basın toplantısında konuşan Suriyeli muhalif sanatçı Cemal Süleyman, Kahire'de 2 gün süren istişare toplantılarında muhaliflerin üzerinde anlaştığı 10 maddeden oluşan Kahire Bildirisi’ni yayımladıklarını belirtti.
Ulusal Koordinasyon Kurulu Genel Koordinatör Yardımcısı Heysem Menna ise "Diğer bütün çözümlerden önce siyasi çözümün olması için çalışıyoruz" dedi.
"Moskova'nın başarıya ulaşma şansı yok"
Katılımcılar, Moskova'da 26-29 Ocak tarihlerinde, muhalefet ve Beşşar Esed yönetiminin bir araya getirilmesi planlanan görüşmelere değinilmediğini vurgularken, Menna, "Moskova’ya gitmek isteyen gidebilir. Birçok sebepten ötürü bu diyalogun başarıya ulaşma şansı yok. Bu sebeplerin en önemlisi rejim adına müzakerelere katılacak kişilerin hiçbir yetkiye sahip olmaması" diye konuştu.
Diyalog görüşmelerinden önce güven inşa edilmesi gerektiğini vurgulayan Menna, Moskova görüşmeleri öncesinde ise varil bombası kullanarak, ölüm ve yıkımın artışa geçtiğini söyledi.
Diğer muhalifler gibi Mısır yönetimine teşekkür eden Menna, Mısır olmadan başarıya ulaşamayacaklarını söyleyerek, "Kahire'nin desteğinin, muhaliflerin ülkeye girişini kolaylaştırmayla sınırlı kaldığını ifade etmek isterim. Muhalifler yol ve oturum masraflarını kendileri karşıladı" bilgisini paylaştı.
Suriye Muhalif ve Devrimci Güçler Ulusal Koalisyonu (SMDK) üyesi Fayiz Sara, Kahire Bildirisi’nde Beşşar Esed'in geleceğine değinilmemesine ilişkin bir soruya, "Kahire Bildirisi, Esed'in kaderinin ne olacağının belirlendiği Cenevre Bildirisi doğrultusunda, siyasi çözümü teyit ediyor" cevabını verdi.
Sara, "Cenevre Bildirisi, geçiş sürecinin yönetimini,  geçiş yönetimi konseyi tarafından yapılmasını öngörüyor. Bu da Beşşar olmadan ülke yönetiminin konseye geçmesi anlamına geliyor" dedi.
Kahire'deki toplantıya yönelik eleştiriler
Suriye muhalefeti, muhalefetteki çeşitliliğin yansımaması, katılımcıların objektif olarak seçilmemesi, kişilerin temsil ettikleri yapılardan bağımsız olarak davet edilmesi nedeniyle Kahire'deki toplantıyı eleştirdi.
Kahire Bildirisi
Suriye muhalefetinin Kahire'deki toplantısının ardından yayınlanan Kahire Bildirisi’nde, Cenevre Bildirisi ve BM kararları doğrultusunda siyasi çözümün önemi teyit edildi.
Bildiride, siyasi çözümün, demokratik rejime ve sivil devlete geçilmesini hedeflediği kaydedildi. Siyasi çözümün, uluslararası ve bölgesel garantiye, halkın sahiplenmesine, mahkumların serbest bırakılmasına, tarafların ülkede Suriyeli olmayan askeri varlıkların sonlandırılması konusunda anlaşmasına ihtiyacı olduğu ifade edildi.
Kahire'de ilkbaharda düzenlenmesi planlanan Suriye ulusal konferansına katılım çağrısı yapılan Bildiri’de, konferans hazırlığı için muhalif gruplarla iletişimi sağlayacak bir komisyon kurulması istendi.

Syrian Government Announces their Moscow Talks Representatives- Al-Masdar News

The Syrian State Government has announced their 7 representatives that will attend the Peace Talks with the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) on January 26th. This meeting will be monitored and facilitated by the Russian Government (Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov); it is expected to last 4 days.
The Syrian Government’s delegation is as followed:
1. Dr. Bashar Al-Ja’afari
2. Dr. Riyaad Haddaad
3. Dr. Ahmad Kizbri
4. Dr. Mohammad ‘Akkam
5. Dr. Ahmad ‘Arnous
6. ‘Amjad ‘Issa
7. ‘Usama ‘Ali