"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, September 30, 2016

Peace in Syria is possible. Here’s how it can be achieved- The Guardian

The argument that diplomacy has failed in Syria and that the best thing to bring the suffering to an end in Aleppo would be a quick victory for Bashar al-Assad is too pessimistic. We need to recognise that the diplomacy has never faced up to the need for an initial partition or zones of influence involving neighbouring states on the path to an eventual unified settlement in Syria.

LF Defends Right to Claim Defense and Interior Portfolios- Naharnet

Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea will begin political contacts as soon as he returns to the country from a trip abroad, to follow up on the political mobility that spiked lately in an attempt to reach consensus on a head of state, as LF sources defend the party's right to claim ministerial portfolio including the defense and interior, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Friday.
Commenting on speculations that some refuse to assign the defense and interior ministries to the Lebanese Forces, an LF source said: “We will not accept this exclusion, because the LF is an essential component and has the right like all other political parties to handle any of the ministries without any veto.”
“Why do they have a problem with the Lebanese Forces in particular, and why are they afraid that we claim the ministries of defense and interior?” the source went on and asked.

Berri-Jumblat Disfavor Aoun for Presidency, Tripartite Alliance with Franjieh Does not Exist- Naharnet

Positive results with regard to the nomination of MP Michel Aoun for the presidential post are not to be expected from Speaker Nabih Berri and Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat, and a tripartite alliance with Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh is not in the making, An Nahar daily reported on Friday.
Sources who held meetings with Berri and Jumblat earlier, said they observed “discouraging impressions” as for a suggestion to support Aoun for the presidency, the daily quoted the sources on condition of anonymity.
“Even though they (Berri and Jumblat) dealt flexibly with the motives of al-Mustaqbal Movement chief ex-PM Saad Hariri to re-float all the options (to fill the presidential vacuum) including the option of nominating Aoun,” but they do not encourage the MP for the top Christian post.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

U.N. Envoy Says Syria Talks 'Very Difficult with Bombs Falling'- Naharnet

The U.N. envoy for Syria said Thursday there was little prospect of an imminent restart of negotiations to try to end the raging conflict.
"At the moment, when bombs are falling all over, it is very difficult to justify resuming talks," Staffan de Mistura told Agence France Presse after he met Pope Francis at the Vatican.
Russia said Wednesday it was ready to relaunch talks in Geneva with the United States following the collapse of a ceasefire.
But Washington threatened to suspend its engagement with Russia following escalating bombardments on rebel-held parts of the city of Aleppo.

Russia says U.S. Syria statement shows Washington supports terrorism-

Russia is outraged by the threatening tone of the latest U.S. statement on Syria, viewing it as tantamount to supporting terrorism, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday, according to Russian news agencies.

Ryabkov was referring to a statement made by U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby who said on Wednesday that Russia had an interest in stopping the violence in Syria because extremists could exploit the vacuum there and launch attacks "against Russian interests, perhaps even Russian cities."

"We cannot interpret this as anything else apart from the current U.S. administration's de facto support for terrorism," Ryabkov was quoted as saying.

Russia rejects US calls to halt bombing eastern Aleppo- BBC News

Russia has said it will carry on bombing rebel-held eastern Aleppo in Syria, defying US demands to stop.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday that the Russian air force would continue its support of the Syrian armed forces.
He also urged Washington to deliver on a pledge to separate moderate Syrian opposition fighters from "terrorists".
US Secretary of State John Kerry warned the US was "on the verge" of suspending talks with Russia over Syria.

Russian MoD: We’re ready for Syria dialogue with US, but threats against our military unacceptable- RT

Russia is fully ready to continue the dialogue with the US regarding joint actions to combat terrorists in Syria, the Russian Ministry of Defense has said. It stressed, however, that this is only possible if Washington abstains from “any hints of threats to Russia's military and citizens.”

The statement came in response to comments made by US State Department spokesperson John Kirby at a press briefing on Wednesday. Kirby said that if the war in Syria continues, “more Russian lives will be lost, more Russian aircraft will be shot down” as“extremist groups will continue to exploit the vacuums that are there in Syria to expand their operations, which could include attacks against Russian interests, perhaps even Russian cities.”
Speaking on Thursday, Russian Ministry of Defense spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said: “Once again we declare that we are fully prepared to continue the dialogue with the American side and carry on with the joint actions to combat terrorists in Syria.”

US providing light arms to Kurdish-led coalition in Syria, officials confirm- The Guardian

US officials have confirmed they are supplying arms to a Kurdish-led coalition in Syria, angering Turkey and jeopardising a precarious common front in the war against Islamic State extremists.
The officials say that the US is supplying only light weapons and they are going to the Arab contingent of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). However, Kurdish officials linked to the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the dominant partner in the SDF, say they have been promised the US will arm them directly if they lead the battle for Isis’s Syrian stronghold in Raqqa.
Ankara has reacted furiously to news of the arms supplies, as it views the YPG as a terrorist group, linked to Turkish Kurd militants. The country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said he found out about US planes carrying arms landing at the Kurdish-controlled town of Kobani, while he was attending the UN general assembly in New York, at which he met the US vice-president, Joe Biden. Erdoğan claimed Biden said he was unaware of the arms deliveries.

Egypt Ambassador: Hariri Exerting Great Effort to End Presidential Vacancy- Naharnet

Egyptian Ambassador to Lebanon Nazih Naggari held talks Thursday with al-Mustaqbal Movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri and noted that the former premier is “exerting a great effort to end the presidential vacancy.”
“I was honored to meet with (ex-)premier Hariri, who has a special relationship with Egypt. He returned from abroad a few days ago and I wanted to meet with him as soon as possible to discuss the latest developments,” Naggari said after the Center House meeting.
“Hariri is exerting a great effort to end the presidential vacancy and this is important for all the Lebanese. He has a large role and an active presence in the Lebanese political life,” he added.

U.S. close to suspending Syria talks with Russia as Aleppo battle rages- Reuters

The United States is close to suspending talks with Russia on a ceasefire in Syria, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday, as the Kremlin vowed to press on with an assault on the city of Aleppo.

Moscow and Damascus launched a campaign to recapture the rebel-held sector of Syria's biggest city this month, abandoning a ceasefire a week after it took effect to embark on what could be the biggest battle of a nearly six-year war.

Syrian government forces made a significant advance, capturing the Handarat refugee camp a few kilometers (miles) north of the city. They had briefly seized it on Saturday, before losing it again in a rebel counter attack.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Kremlin: Statements on possible anti-Russia sanctions over Syria are confusing- TASS

MOSCOW, September 28. /TASS/. The statements on the possibility of imposing new sanctions against Russia over the situation in Syria cause deep misunderstanding of those who know the real state of things in the settlement of the Syrian conflict, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.

"No doubt, the mention of sanctions in the context of the Syrian affairs causes deep misunderstanding, especially among those who know the real state of things in Syria, the real state of things with the implementation of the commitments indicated in the Russian-US accords," the Kremlin spokesman said, commenting on the statements by US White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

Do You Realize What You've Done?': West Remains Deaf to Putin's Call on Syria- Sputnik News

On September 28, 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin asked Western leaders and their allies whether they understood what they have done in the Middle East and urged them to form a broad counterterrorism coalition. Twelve months later, they still have failed to make the right choice, political analyst Dmitry Kosyrev wrote for RIA Novosti.

Syria war: Those bombing Aleppo 'must answer to God' - Pope- BBC News

Pope Francis has decried the bombing of Aleppo in Syria, saying those responsible for killing civilians will have to answer to God.
Speaking at a public audience in St Peter's Square in Rome, he called it "an already martyred city, where everybody is dying".
Russian-backed Syrian government forces have launched a fierce campaign to take control of rebel-held eastern areas.
Air strikes continued to hit the besieged districts overnight.

Suriyeli muhaliflere yeni tip Grad füzesi verildi- Al-Jazeera Turk

Reuters'e konuşan muhalif komutan Faris Bayuş, yabancı ülkelerin kendilerine ilk kez karadan karaya kullanılan yeni tip Grad füzeleri verdiğini söyledi. 

Bayuş, bu füzelerin kendilerine verilmesinin, Rusya'nın Halep'te artan saldırılarına bir yanıt olduğu görüşünde.

Muhalif komutan, Grad füzelerinin Halep ve Hama ile Suriye'nin batısındaki kıyı kentlerde kullanacaklarını söyledi. 

Aldıkları füze sayısına ilişkin soruya "mükemmel miktarda" yanıtını veren Bayuş, karadan havaya füze de istediklerini ancak bunun gerçekleşebileceğine dair bir sinyal almadıklarını belirtti.

Berri Adjourns Presidential Vote to Oct. 31 as Franjieh Warns Hariri over Backing Aoun- Naharnet

Speaker Nabih Berri on Wednesday adjourned a presidential election session to October 31 over lack of quorum as Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh warned al-Mustaqbal Movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri against endorsing the presidential nomination of Free Patriotic Movement founder MP Michel Aoun.
“Should Hariri agree with Aoun and name him for the presidency, he will reap the same result as when then-president Amin Gemayel named Aoun to head the (military) government in 1988,” Franjieh cautioned after the session.
Mustaqbal bloc MP Nabil de Freij meanwhile announced that “nothing has been settled until the moment,” noting that Hariri is conducting consultations “in a bid to find a solution.”
A member of Franjieh's bloc, MP Estephan Douaihi, said the Marada leader is still carrying on with his nomination “seeing as he has characteristics that make him more able to secure national consensus,” stressing that Marada will “confront any attempt to alter the unique Lebanese formula.”

Shaaban: Russian-US Deal on Syria Was Undermined by US Congress- The Syrian Observer

Sep 28th, 2016 by SANA (state news agency)

US Congress and the Pentagon have ignored the Obama administration’s efforts to secure a truce in Syria, says top adviser to Assad

Presidential adviser Bouthaina Shaaban asserted that the Syrian government and army is determined to restore sovereignty over the whole country and will respond to any attempts to target the nation in order to preserve Syria’s future and unity.

In an interview with Lebanese Al-Mayadeen TV on Monday, Shaaban said that the weakness and disarray of Washington’s positions towards the region are reflected in its implementation of the Russian-US deal on Syria, as US Congress and the Pentagon have ignored the Obama administration’s efforts to secure a truce. She pointed out that the recent Russian-US deal cannot be implemented unless the disunity in Washington’s policies are resolved.

On what has been circulated via media outlets regarding the US attack on a Syrian army position in Deir-ez-Zor, Shaaban clarified that the US apology came through informal channels, adding that Syria requests a public apology that ensures that the incident is never repeated.

US-led international coalition strikes destroy two bridges in Deir Ezzor- SANA

Deir Ezzor, SANA – Aircrafts of the US-led international coalition launched strikes on two main bridges on the Euphrates River in the countryside of the eastern Deir Ezzor province.
SANA reporter in Deir Ezzor said Wednesday that the strikes resulted in the destruction of al-Asharah Bridge that links the river’s two banks in the eastern countryside of the province only few hours after destroying al-Mayadin Bridge.
The destruction of the two bridges aims at disconnecting the areas located on both banks of the river, the reporter noted.
The coalition, which claims to be fighting ISIS terrorist organization, has repeatedly targeted the Syrian infrastructure with the aim to deliberately inflict damage on sites and facilities in the country.
Late last year, the coalition’s aircrafts destroyed two electricity plants in al-Radwaniyeh area and water pumping stations in al-Khafseh area, east of Aleppo, in addition to claiming hundreds of civilian lives.

Blinken: Kürt kantonlarının birleştirilmesine karşıyız- Al-Jazeera Turk

ABD Dışişleri Bakan Yardımcısı Anthony Blinken, NTV'ye verdiği özel röportajda, PKK’nın Suriye kolu PYD’nin özerklik ilanları hakkındaki soruya yanıt verdi. “Suriye’deki tüm taraflara çok açık ve net şekilde Suriye'nin toprak bütünlüğünü kuvvetli bir şekilde desteklediğimizi ve Suriye'de Kürt kantonları olarak bahsedilen bölgelerin birleştirilmesine karşı olduğumuzu ifade ettik. Bu konuda şimdiye kadar net bir tavır aldık ve tutumumuz bu şekilde devam edecektir” dedi.

Jumblat Discusses Developments with Hariri at Center House- Naharnet

Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat held talks Wednesday evening at the Center House with al-Mustaqbal Movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri.
A terse statement issued by Hariri's office said the meeting tackled “the current political developments” and was followed by a dinner banquet.
Health Minister Wael Abou Faour of the PSP and Hariri's adviser ex-MP Ghattas Khoury took part in the talks, the statement said.
Earlier in the day, Hariri held talks with Kataeb Party chief MP Sami Gemayel in Saifi and Bikfaya.
A wave of speculation had preceded the 45th presidential vote session that was held earlier on Wednesday after Hariri's return to Lebanon on Saturday triggered a flurry of rumors and media reports that the ex-PM had finally decided to endorse Free Patriotic Movement founder MP Michel Aoun for the presidency in a bid to break the deadlock.

Putin is making a mistake in Syria — and Russia will pay the price- The Washington Post

Philip Gordon is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. From 2013 to 2015 he was special assistant to President Obama and White House coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf.  
One of Vice President Biden’s favorite sayings on foreign policy is to never tell another man or woman what’s in his or her interest. That is a good general rule; I heard him repeat the saying many times while I was working on Middle East policy in the White House. But when it comes to Russia’s recent actions in Syria, I believe the rule needs to be broken. Russian President Vladimir Putin may fancy himself a master strategist, but in Syria he is making a mistake that will come back to haunt him — and Russia — for a long time to come.

Hariri Meets Gemayel in Saifi- Naharnet

Al-Mustaqbal Movement chief ex-PM Saad Hariri held a meeting on Wednesday with Kataeb party leader Sami Gemayel at the Kataeb headquarters in al-Saifi.
The visit comes in the framework of consultations that Hariri said will wrap up to address the issue of electing a president after more than two years of vacuum at the top Christian position.
Kataeb deputy chief Salim al-Sayegh attended the meeting in addition to Politburo member Albert Kostanian and MP Samer Saadeh.
Hariri was accompanied by former minister and adviser Ghattas Khoury and adviser Hani Hammoud.
Media reports said that Hariri has told the members of his parliamentary bloc during a meeting on Tuesday that he might make the “bitter choice” of endorsing Free Patriotic Movement founder Aoun for the presidency as some Mustaqbal MPs described such a step as “suicidal.”
An official statement issued after the meeting had said that Hariri “informed the bloc that he has started consultations with all political parties with the aim of speeding up the election of a president.”

US-backed rebels now equipped with advanced rocket launchers- Al-Masdar News

US-backed rebels attacked – for the first time – the Syrian Army positions in Handarat Refugee Camp in northeast Aleppo with barrages of BM-21 missiles (Grad) using rocket launchers they had obtained earlier.
A pro-rebel Twitter account released a video showing a group of the West-backed FSA fighters unloading the missiles and then firing them using rocket launchers.

IS Official in Ain el-Hilweh Turns Himself to Army- Naharnet

An Islamic State official, Hisham Shehab Khodr Qaddour, in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh turned himself in on Wednesday to the Army Intelligence, reports said.
LBCI said that Qaddour is the uncle of al-Nusra Front official, Haitham al-Shaabi. It also added that his father is Hisham Qaddour, aka Abu Hurairah, an official with Shaker al-Absi who was killed in north Lebanon.
Early this week, the army carried out an operation in Ain el-Hilweh and arrested the so-called IS Emir in the camp Imad Yassine.

Bkirki Welcomes Election of Aoun: Patriarch Would be Pleased- Naharnet

Patriarch al-Rahi's envoy Bishop Boulos Sayyah said it is normal for Bkirki to elect MP Michel Aoun for the presidency because he has the support of the majority of Christians, as he stressed that Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi would be pleased if founder of the Free Patriotic Movemnet, Aoun, wins the polls, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Wednesday.
“The latest political developments at the presidential level are promising after (ex-PM Saad) Hariri gave momentum to the file. Patriarch al-Rahi rejoices for the election of Aoun and he has echoed that several times,” said Sayyah.
“We support the election of Aoun but that does not mean that we prefer a certain candidate over another,” he added in reference to Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh.
Sayyah stressed that “Bkirki will support the president who will be elected. It is normal that Aoun becomes a president because he has the support of the majority of Christians, now that the Lebanese Forces back him too.”
He pointed out that the Kataeb party “will not oppose Aoun, and Franjieh was also part of the Change and Reform bloc (of Aoun) and therefore there is no substantial disagreement between the Christians.”

Raids Hit Two Largest Hospitals in Rebel-Held Aleppo- Naharnet

Air raids hit the two largest hospitals in rebel-held parts of Syria's Aleppo early Wednesday, putting them temporarily out of service, the medical organisation that supports them said. 
"The attack happened at 4:00 am (0100 GMT). One warplane targeted both of them directly," said Adham Sahloul of the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS). 
"There are only six hospitals currently operational now that the M2 and M10 have been temporarily taken out of service," he said. 
Both hospitals had intensive care units and trauma capacities and had been targeted in previous aerial attacks, according to Sahloul, who described the bombings as "deliberate".
It was unclear if the strikes were executed by Syrian forces or their Russian ally, both of which are carrying out bombing raids in Aleppo city.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Syrian Army seizes Aleppo’s central district from terrorists – state media- RT

Syrian government forces have re-captured Aleppo’s central district of al-Farafirah from terrorists, state outlet SANA reported, citing army sources.
According to SANA, the Syrian Army is now in control of al-Farafirah with sappers currently clearing the area from “mines and improvised explosive devices planted by terrorists.”
“The army retook control of the entire al-Farafirah district northwest of the Aleppo citadel after neutralizing many terrorists. Units are now demining the area,” AFP quoted a military source as saying.
After their retreat, the terrorists left munitions and weapons, including large-caliber machine guns, RIA Novosti reports, citing another source with knowledge of the matter.
“We have been able for the first time in several years to move the front in Aleppo,” the Russian news agency’s source said.
It added that the Syrian Army suffered no losses in the operation, which began in the early hours of Tuesday.
The district of Al-Farafirah is located north-west of Aleppo’s main historical landmark, the Citadel – a large medieval fortified palace in the center of the old city. Syrian troops are also demining in other districts in Aleppo, including that of al-Ramusi.

“Remember Syria’s Adib Shishakli" (Christopher Solomon- Syria Comment)

For Syria Comment Sept 27, 2016

Nearly 52 years ago, a Syrian political leader hiding in exile was killed in the heart of Brazil. As Syria watchers continue to monitor and understand the country’s grinding civil war, the era of the former Syrian political figure Adib Al-Shishakli could yield some clues.
The flag of the Syrian opposition factions bares the green, white, and black tricolor with three red stars. The very same flag once flew over Syria from its independence until the late 1950’s, a turbulent era marked by political intrigue, military coups, early experiments with democracy, and authoritarian rule. At the center of this era was a powerful political figure now barely remembered both outside of Syria, Adib Al-Shishakli.
As policy makers in capitals across the Western World grapple with Syria’s endless violence, Shishakli’s legacy and the lessons from his time are worth remembering today. Shishakli’s rule over Syria, geopolitical trends, his relationship with the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), and his ensuing ouster yield some clues on what we might expect as the civil war prepares to enter its sixth year.

Shaaban: Russian-US deal on Syria was undermined inside US Congress- SANA

Damascus, SANA – Presidential Political and Media Advisor Bouthaina Shaaban asserted that the Syrian Arab Army will strike wherever there is terrorism in the nation, adding that the government is resolved to restore sovereignty over the whole national soil and to respond to anyone who targets it in order to preserve Syria’s future and unity.
In an interview with Al Mayadeen TV on Monday, Shaaban clarified that the weakness and disarray of the US Administration’s positions, along with its moral degradation even in dealing with the agreements it signs, have reflected on implementing the Russian-US deal on Syria, as the Pentagon did not listen to Obama regarding the agreement, and it was undermined inside the Congress.
She pointed out that the recent Russian-US agreement on Syria cannot be implemented unless the problem inside US Administration is solved, noting that Russia is in the right because it is committed to agreements and it works against terrorism, while the US discourse contains a great deal of nonsense and inexactitude, adding that the provisions that were agreed on in the Russian-US agreement were not made public; rather what has been announced was just partial matters and not the five documents.
She stressed that the Syrian leadership was a main party in the consultations regarding each point in the agreement even before it was written down, adding that the Russian ally differs from the West in terms of respecting the sovereignty of states and allies, stressing that Russia does not agree to any detail regarding Syria before getting the consent of the Syrian leadership.
Shaaban noted that the West doesn’t feel embarrassed if it signs an agreement and doesn’t abide by it, and it’s attempting to do so with Russia as it did before regarding the nuclear agreement with Iran.
On what has been circulated via media outlets regarding a US apology for the aggression on a Syrian Army position in Deir Ezzor, Shaaban clarified that the US apology came through informal channels, adding that Syria does not trust that apology; rather it wants a public apology that ensures that the incident is never repeated.
The Presidential Advisor stressed that Syria is a member state at the UN and the Syrian Arab Army is fighting terrorism, and the legitimacy of President Bashar al-Assad stems from the Syrian people, not from what the American administration decides.

Gulf may arm rebels now Syria truce is dead - U.S. officials- Reuters

The collapse of the latest Syria ceasefire has heightened the possibility that Gulf states might arm Syrian rebels with shoulder-fired missiles to defend themselves against Syrian and Russian warplanes, U.S. officials said on Monday.

Still, the U.S. administration continues to maintain that negotiations are the only way to end the carnage after Russian-backed Syrian forces intensified their bombing of Aleppo, the last major urban area in rebel hands.

The latest U.S. attempt to end Syria's 5-1/2 year civil war was shattered on Sept. 19 when a humanitarian aid convoy was bombed in an attack Washington blamed on Russian aircraft. Moscow denied involvement.

On Monday, medical supplies were running out in rebel-held eastern Aleppo, with victims pouring into barely functioning hospitals as Russia and its Syrian ally President Bashar al-Assad ignored Western pleas to stop the bombing.

Russian Foreign Ministry publishes part of agreement with US on Syria- TASS

MOSCOW, September 27. /TASS/. Russia is urging the United States to agree to the publication of the entire package of agreements on Syria, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

"Several days ago, after leaks to Western mass media the US Department of State published on its website selected documents without taking the trouble of coordinating with us the date of the publication," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a commentary. "For our part we publish the texts of the corresponding agreements in Russian."

Monday, September 26, 2016

Al-Moallem: The US wanted to lie and change facts regarding what the Syrian government is doing, but it failed- SANA

Damascus, SANA – Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem stressed that the United States, France, and Britain called for a UN Security Council session on Syria this Sunday in an attempt to support terrorist organizations in Syria.
In an interview given to Al Mayadeen TV, al-Moallem clarified that the US wanted to direct accusations at Russia after its Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov succeeded in embarrassing the US for its disavowal of the deal with Russia, adding that the US also wanted to lie and change facts in regards with what the Syrian government is doing, but it failed.
Al-Moallem pointed out that the USA cannot separate Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organization from the armed groups because it constitutes their “backbone,” adding that the West tried to blame Russia in an attempt to delude the public opinion as the West had funded, trained, and armed terrorists in Syria.

Syrian Army reinforcements arrive in northern Aleppo for Handarat offensive- Al-Masdar

A large group of reinforcements from the Syrian Arab Army's Republican Guard arrived to the Bureijj Quarries in northern Aleppo on Sunday night to help Liwaa Al-Quds (Palestinian paramilitary) retake the Handarat Refugee Camp.
According to an Al-Masdar correspondent in Damascus, the Republican Guard soldiers were tasked by the Syrian Arab Army's High Command to lead the next round of attacks at the Handarat Refugee Camp in northern Aleppo.

FPM's Street Rallies Awaiting 'Green Light' from Aoun- Naharnet

Free Patriotic Movement sources stressed that they have completed the preparations for the street rallies and are waiting for the start signal from MP Michel Aoun, As Safir daily reported on Monday.
"The plan to kick off street rallies and take action on the ground has been completed, and putting it into implementation awaits the signal of Aoun," the sources told the daily on condition of anonymity.

Jumblat: International and Arab Powers Have no Time for Lebanon, Better Elect a President- Naharnet

Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat stated that International and Arab powers have no time to address Lebanon's needs, as he emphasized the necessity to reduce the pressure on Lebanon's security and economic situations through the election of a president which would bring about a positive shock that reactivates the institutions, As Safir daily reported on Monday.
“The presence of a president leads to the reactivation of the situation and triggers a positive impact to the country and reopens the institutions without exception,” said Jumblat in an interview to the daily.
However, he added: “I believe that the issue of the presidency is postponed in accordance with the circumstances at the current moment particularly that no (country) one has the time for us.”
On the adamant stances of Hizbullah and its adherence to the nomination of founder of the Free Patriotic Movement MP Michel Aoun, Jumblat said: “I respect Hizbullah's proclaimed choice and adherence to nominating General Aoun, but I wonder if the hidden intentions are something else!”

Aid delivered to four besieged towns in Syria- Al-Arabiya

Seventy trucks of humanitarian aid were delivered on Sunday to four besieged towns in Syria for the first time in almost six months, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

The aid organization said convoys were delivered to Madaya and Zabdani near Damascus and to the villages of al Foua and Kefraya in Idlib province in the north west.

Madaya, near the border with Lebanon, has a population of around 40,000 and has been besieged by Syrian government-allied forces for around six months. Zabadani has 1,000 people left.

'Suriye'de barış artık imkansız'- Al-Jazeera Turk

Suriye'de ateşkes sonrası Halep'e düzenlenen hava saldırılarında 100'e yakın kişi hayatını kaybederken, Birleşmiş Mileltler Güvenlik Konseyi'ndeki Halep oturum sert tartışmalara sahne oldu. Rusya BM Büyükelçisi Suriye'de barışın artık "imkansız" olduğunu savunurken, BM Suriye Özel Temsilcisi Mistura da Rusya ve rejimin Halep saldırılarını eleştirip, "Halep'teki 200 binden fazla insan terörist olamaz" çıkışı yaptı.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Syria's Return to Peace Became Almost Impossible Task - Russian Envoy to UN - Sputnik News

Syria's return to peaceful life has become almost an impossible task, Russian ambassador to the United Nations Vitaliy Churkin said Sunday.

U.N. Holds Urgent Talks as Air Strikes Pound Syria's Aleppo- Naharnet

The U.N. Security Council met for urgent talks on Sunday as Syrian and Russian warplanes  pounded rebel-held east Aleppo in the worst surge of bombing to hit the devastated city in years.
Britain, France and the United States called the emergency meeting to turn up pressure on Russia and press demands that it rein in its ally Syria to halt the intense bombing campaign on Aleppo.
"War crimes are being committed here in Aleppo," French Ambassador Francois Delattre told reporters, adding: "They must not be unpunished and impunity is simply not an option in Syria."
"Just when we thought things couldn't get any worse in Syria, they have," British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said.
"The incendiary munitions that are dropping on Aleppo are indiscriminate and a clear breach of international law -- the barrel-busting bombs that are falling from the skies likewise," he said.

Russia, Iran true friends of Syrians — Syrian foreign minister- TASS

THE UNITED NATIONS, September 24. /TASS/. Russia and Iran are true friends of the Syrians and have helped make "great strides" in the war against terrorism, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said on Saturday, addressing the UN General Assembly.

The foreign minister said with certainty that despite foreign financial aid to armed groups, "all Syrians — the people, the army and the government — will not relent in their fight against terrorism."

"They are determined, more than ever before, to eliminate terrorism wherever it exists in their country and to rebuild a better Syria, because they are well aware that their homeland will cease to exist if the terrorists and their backers emerge victorious," al-Moualem said.

US slams Russian ‘barbarism’ in Syria- Al-Arabiya

The United States on Sunday called Russia’s action in Syria “barbarism” not counter-terrorism while Moscow’s UN envoy said ending the war “is almost an impossible task now” as Syrian government forces, backed by Moscow, bombed the city of Aleppo.

The United Nations Security Council met on Sunday at the request of the United States, Britain and France to discuss the escalation of fighting in Aleppo following the announcement on Thursday of an offensive by the Syrian army to retake the city.

“What Russia is sponsoring and doing is not counter-terrorism, it is barbarism,” US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, told the 15-member council.

“Instead of pursuing peace, Russia and Assad make war. Instead of helping get life-saving aid to civilians, Russia and Assad are bombing the humanitarian convoys, hospitals, and first responders who are trying desperately to keep people alive,” said Power.

UN Security Council Holds Urgent Talks on Aleppo, as Syrian, Russian Jets Pound Rebel-held Sector- VOA

 The U.N. Security Council held urgent talks Sunday about the deadly surge of violence in Aleppo as Syrian and Russian jet fighters bombarded the rebel-controlled eastern sector of the Syrian city.

"The Assad regime is explicit: it believes only in a military solution," U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power told the U.N. Security Council. "It says it is going to conquer militarily every last square inch of Syria. And it does not care what’s left of Syria in pursuing that military solution."

Aid delivered to Madaya and al-Zabadani in Damascus countryside, Kefraya and al-Foua’a in Idleb- SANA

Provinces, SANA – Under the supervision of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), an aid convoy was delivered on Sunday evening to the towns of Kefraya and al-Foua’a which are besieged by terrorists from Jaish al-Fateh.
A source at SARC told SANA that 17 trucks carrying food and relief items entered the two towns, which are located around 10 km north of Idleb city.
The locals of Kefraya and al-Foua’a have been suffering from lack of food and medical supplies, particularly supplies for children, due to the terrorists who besiege the town and open fire on the aid shipments airdropped by Syrian and Russian airplanes to locals.

Hariri Returns to Beirut: Ties with Saudi Won't be Affected by Attempts to Harm Them- Naharnet

Al-Mustaqbal Movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri returned to Beirut overnight from a several-week foreign trip during which he shuttled between Europe and Saudi Arabia.
Hariri had hailed the Lebanese-Saudi relations in an interview with the kingdom's official news agency that coincided with the Saudi National Day.
“The kingdom has always been keen on supporting and assisting the Lebanese, without exceptions, to enable Lebanon to overcome its internal crises and problems and to preserve its security and stability,” Hariri said.
He stressed that the ties between the two countries “will not be affected by the attempts of some parties to harm them through insulting the kingdom's role and distorting its reputation over well-known regional calculations.”

Salam Weighs Call for Cabinet Session as Moqbel Faces Two Choices- Naharnet

Prime Minister Tammam Salam has not yet taken a decision to call for a cabinet session and is still evaluating the situations in light of the declared boycott of the Free Patriotic Movement of the government's meetings, a media report said on Sunday.
“Salam is holding up the decision on calling for a session pending the outcome of the series of contacts that he will hold once he returns to Beirut and, accordingly, the premiership has not yet distributed any agenda,” An Nahar newspaper quoted ministerial sources as saying.
Salam has tasked Environment Minister Mohammed al-Mashnouq with exploring the stances of the ministers on the issue of holding a session.

EU to consider additional actions to facilitate resumption of inter-Syrian talks- TASS

BRUSSELS, September 25. /TASS/. The European Union (EU) will consider additional actions it can take to bring all parties to the negotiations table, High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Christos Stylianides said in a joint statement published on Saturday.

US, European Allies Say it is Up to Russia to Bring Truce in Syria- VOA

The United States and its European allies are urging Russia to take “extraordinary” steps to support a cessation of hostilities in Syria.

In a joint statement released late Saturday, foreign ministers from the United States, France, Italy, Germany, Britain and high representatives of the European Union pushed Moscow to support humanitarian assistance, stop bombings on Syrians, and renew truce efforts.

Russia Increased Air Grouping in Syria Su-25SM Strike Aircraft Spotted in Latakia- South Front

A fresh video evidence from the Syrian northern province of Latakia indicates that Russia has likely increased its air grouping operating in the Arab country. The video enеitled “Syria: Army relaunches offensive against militias in Latakia” and posted by RUPTLY on September 24, 2016 shows the Su-25SM attack aircraft supporеing an advance of the Syrian army against terrorists.

U.N. Holds Urgent Talks as Air Strikes Pound Syria's Aleppo- Naharnet

The U.N. Security Council met for urgent talks on Sunday as Syrian and Russian warplanes  pounded rebel-held east Aleppo in the worst surge of bombing to hit the devastated city in years.
Britain, France and the United States called the emergency meeting to turn up pressure on Russia and press demands that it rein in its ally Syria to halt the intense bombing campaign on Aleppo.
"War crimes are being committed here in Aleppo," French Ambassador Francois Delattre told reporters, adding: "They must not be unpunished and impunity is simply not an option in Syria."

Terrorists Retake Most of Handarat Refugee Camp in Syrian City of Aleppo- Sputnik News

The Syrian Army responded by targeting terrorists with artillery fire.

ALEPPO (Sputnik) — Terrorists have retaken most of the Palestinian refugee camp Handarat in southeastern Aleppo from Syrian government forces and supporting militias, a representative of the Liwa al-Quds Palestinian militia said Sunday.

The Syrian Army has responded by targeting terrorists with artillery fire, according to the representative.

On Saturday, the Syrian army, backed up by local militias, regained full control over Handarat, carried out demining operations and cleared several roads for transport access. The operation became the first Syrian army's major advance in Aleppo in over a year.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Syrian, Russian Aircraft Pound Rebel-Held Aleppo- Naharnet

Residents in rebel-held areas of Syria's Aleppo cowered in their homes on Saturday as relentless missile strikes and barrel bomb attacks pounded the besieged eastern half of the divided city.
The raids by Russian and Syrian aircraft continued for a second night, after Damascus announced an operation late Thursday to recapture all of the city.
Heavy bombardment on Friday killed at least 47 people, among them seven children, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said.
The toll was expected to rise with the ongoing strikes levelling entire buildings, and obliterating whole streets.
"There are certainly deaths in the bombing (on Saturday) but we don't have tolls yet and people are still trapped under the rubble," said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.

Supporters of IS Emir in Ain el-Hilweh Shift Allegiance to Nusra- Naharnet

Supporters of the so-called Islamic State Emir in Ain el-Hilweh, Imad Yassine, have shifted their allegiance to the Nusra Front, which rebranded itself as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham in July when it split from the al-Qaida movement, As Safir daily reported on Saturday.
Following Yassines' arrest, groups affiliated to the detainee abandoned their homes and a state of “collapse” spread among the ranks of those who supported the Islamic State and Yassine, security sources said.
Military sources likened the scene to a similar situation that took place in the northeastern border town of Arsal when the Lebanese army fatigued the IS militants in the area with heavy shelling, air and land operations that compelled the militants to change allegiance to Nusra.

Joussie crossing on Lebanese border to be re-opened in 6 weeks- SANA

Homs, SANA – Joussie crossing on the Lebanese border will be re-opened in less than 6 weeks, Governor of Homs province Talal al-Barazi announced on Saturday.
He inspected the maintenance and repair works at the border crossing, which is located in al-Qseir area in the southwestern countryside of Homs.
Speaking to the reporters, al-Barazi said the repair works are going on as planned, stressing that the crossing will be opened before arriving and departing people from and to Lebanon in less than 6 weeks.

Friday, September 23, 2016

At U.N., Salam Urges Lebanon 'Friends' to Help End Presidential Void- Naharnet

Prime Minister Tammam Salam on Thursday urged Lebanon's friends to help in ending the long-running presidential vacuum, noting that the solution “is not in the hands of the Lebanese alone.”
“The sharp regional polarization has turned into an open conflict across the region. Therefore, realism obliges us to admit that the solution to the presidential void problem in Lebanon is not in the hands of the Lebanese alone,” Salam told the annual meeting of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
“I send out an appeal to all of Lebanon's friends and to all those who are keen on preventing the emergence of a new tense zone in the Middle East to help Lebanon elect a president in order to restore the balance of our state institutions and protect the Lebanese model of coexistence,” the premier added.
Turning to the refugee crisis, Salam underlined that "the Syrian presence in Lebanon is of a temporary nature."

Syrian Army reinforcements pour into Golan Heights ahead of planned offensive- Al-Masdar

GOLAN HEIGHTS, SYRIA (10:25 A.M.) - A large contingent from the Syrian Arab Army's 4th Mechanized Division arrived in the Golan Heights region of Al-Quneitra this week, as the government forces prepare for a large-scale offensive near the Israeli border.
According to a military source in Damascus, the entire unit was comprised of recent graduates from the Syrian Arab Army's Special Forces school in Deir Attiyah.
These soldiers are now encamped at the 90th Brigade's headquarters, where they will await orders to launch the upcoming Golan Heights offensive.

Rahi Shames Politicians over Failure to Fill Prolonged Presidential Vacuum- Naharnet

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi said on Friday that the failure of politicians to elect a president is linked to “personal and sectarian interests,” as he shamed them over the prolonged vacuum.
“It is not enough to verbally demand the election of a president. The politicians must first come up with new initiatives. Shame on the political parties that over two years and five months since the term of the president ended, they fail to find a solution or suggest new initiatives because of their adamant stances,” said Rahi.

'Rakka, Türkiye'nin stratejik önceliği değil'- Sputnik News

21. Yüzyıl Türkiye Enstitüsü Ortadoğu Araştırmaları Merkezi Başkanı Doç. Dr. Serhat Erkmen, IŞİD'in Suriye'deki 'kalesi' konumunda olan Rakka'ya kısa vadede bir operasyon düzenlenmesinin olası görünmediğini söyledi. Erkmen, "Eğer IŞİD Rakka'dan çıkartılacaksa, Rusya ve Suriye'nin desteğini almayan operasyonun şansı olmadığını düşünüyorum" dedi.

Türkiye’nin Fırat Kalkanı operasyonuyla IŞİD’in Türkiye-Suriye sınırında kontrol ettiği bölgeden güneye doğru itilmesiyle birlikte IŞİD’in Suriye’de en güçlü konumda olduğu kent olan Rakka’ya operasyon düzenlenebileceği bir süredir konuşuluyor.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Cabinet Will Convene, Qahwaji's Term on Agenda- Naharnet

Prime Minister Tammam Salam will call the cabinet for a meeting as soon as he returns from a U.N. meeting in New York, to address a pending agenda that was postponed from an earlier gathering including delaying the term extension of Army commander General Jean Qahwaji and Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Walid Salman, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Thursday.
Ministerial sources spoke on condition of anonymity and asserted to the daily that Salam will call the cabinet to session next Thursday to discuss an agenda that was postponed after it was boycotted by ministers of the Free Patriotic Movement and Tashnaq party. It is planned to address other issues that surfaced.
Delaying the term extension of the Army commander is expected to be a key subject at the meeting, shall it be held.
Defense Minister Samir Moqbel is expected to extend Qahwaji's term even if the cabinet did not convene, the sources told the daily.

Gemayel Reiterates Refusal to Vote for Presidential Candidate Endorsing 'March 8 Project'- Naharnet

Kataeb Party chief MP Sami Gemayel reiterated Wednesday that his party cannot vote for any presidential candidate endorsing the March 8 camp's political vision for the country.
“We refuse to vote for any candidate endorsing March 8's project,” said Gemayel when asked during an MTV interview about reports that he supports the nomination of Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh.
As for the nomination of Free Patriotic Movement founder MP Michel Aoun, Gemayel called on the head of the Change and Reform bloc to “return to his 2005 stances.”
“We must all return to our roots. We belong to the school of the Lebanese Front, the school of nonnegotiable sovereignty,” Gemayel added.
“Should Aoun or Franjieh commit to the principles that we are calling for, we would support any of them, but if they keep covering up for Hizbullah's project in Lebanon we won't elect any of them, because that would contradict with our history and struggle and with what our martyrs died for,” the Kataeb chief stressed.