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“MuiTypography-root-225 MuiTypography-h1-230″>Renewed calls in Syria to overthrow Assad regime
Protesters in the southern Syrian city of Suweida stormed a government building and torched pictures of President Bashar al-Assad over the weekend. They called for overthrowing the president, whom they blame for the worsening economic conditions.
The WorldDecember 7, 2022 · 4:45 PM EST
This file photo released on April 7, 2019, by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows a worker filling a pickup at a gas station, in Homs, Syria. The Syrian government has decided to close state agencies for two days due to severe fuel shortages caused by disruption of supplies arrivals and Western sanctions imposed on President Bashar Assad’s government. Syrian state media reported on Dec. 6, 2022, that the decision to close the institutions on Sunday Dec. 11 and 18, come at a time when many employees have been unable to make it to work because public transport has been badly affected by the crisis.
SANA via AP
The news coming out of the city of Suweida is reminiscent of the early days of the uprising in Syria.
Protesters stormed the governor’s office building and set it on fire. They climbed up the outside of the building and ripped down the large poster of President Bashar al-Assad. They stomped their feet on his pictures.
Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told the AFP news agency that one protester and a policeman were killed.
This level of public outrage aimed at the Assad government is unprecedented in Suweida, experts say. The city is home to a religious minority called the Druze, and they have mostly stayed out of this decadelong civil war.
“I think for the first time now, we see demonstrators attacking government buildings, burning pictures of Assad himself,” said Qutaiba Idlibi, who heads the Syria program at the Atlantic Council.
He listed several reasons why people are protesting in Suweida.
“We’ve seen inflation rates that reach 250% in some areas around Syria, especially outside metropolitan centers,” Idlibi explained. “[And] we’ve seen a rise of tensions over military conscription of youth in Suweida, but also the latest episode was the government’s corrupt network that was helping distribute and transfer drugs, specifically Captagon, in Suweida province, and through Suweida province to Jordan.”
Syria’s whole economy has faced serious problems in recent years. The war has been devastating. But then came the pandemic. And the country is still under heavy economic sanctions.
All this helps begin to explain, experts say, why the anger is reaching a boiling point.
Joel Rayburn, former US Special Envoy for Syria, said the economic divide is a major driver for the protests.
“The normal people on the street or in the business community can look around, and they can see the Shabiha, the militia, and the businesses that are associated with the Assad family driving around in fancy, luxury cars. No fuel shortage there, living a high life, going to fancy restaurants at the same time that everyone else is struggling to make ends meet,” Rayburn said.
An editor for Suwayda 24, a local news outlet — whose name isn’t being used for security reasons —told The World in a text message that the city is quiet this week. He added that given the violent response by the security forces, protesters are planning to hold off on any future protests for the time being.
Another Suweida resident, 30-year-old Rawya, who also asked for her full name not to be used, told The World over a WhatsApp call that people went out to the streets because the economic situation in Suweida is dire.
“People here used to survive on money sent from abroad and farming, and now, these two sources have mostly dried up,” she said, adding that it’s because of the pandemic and the rise in insecurity in the area.
Rawya used to be active in a campaign called, “We Want to Live,” which calls for better living conditions for Syrians. But she said she started to get threats and stopped her activism.
Rawya explained that people in Suweida know all too well the type of brutality the Assad regime can unleash on the population, and she worries about the situation becoming even more violent.
The government might try to punish people in Suweida, she said, by cutting them off from daily necessities, like food and fuel. That’s a tactic the government has used in the recent past. She added that it could also ban protesters from getting an education or fire them from their jobs.
But she doesn’t see these protests going away.
“They might calm down for a while, but unless there is meaningful change, things will explode later on,” she said.
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On September 17, the Aerospace Forces of the Russian Federation launched a massive air strike on the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist base * near the settlement of Ash-Sheikh Yusef in the Syrian province of Idlib: the field commanders of Abu Dujana al- Diri and Bilal Said. This was announced by the Deputy Head of the Russian Center for the Reconciliation of the Warring Parties in the SAR, Major General Oleg Yegorov.
Also, as a result of an airstrike, it was possible to destroy a warehouse with weapons, two warehouses with material resources. A total of 45 terrorists were eliminated.
It is noted that the destroyed militants were directly involved in attacks on the Syrian military and civilians in the Idlib de-escalation zone. In addition, they were preparing sabotage and terrorist actions in the territory controlled by the Syrian government.
Earlier it was reported that five Syrian soldiers were victims of an Israeli air force attack on ground facilities in the province of Damascus.
* A terrorist organization banned on the territory of the Russian Federation.
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A cholera outbreak has occurred in several areas in northern Syria. Three people have already died in the Kurdish autonomy, and at least 30 more cases have been registered in neighboring provinces, according to Rudaw.
According to SANA, during the check, cholera samples were found in sewage and at an ice cube factory. After that, the plant was closed as a matter of urgency. The health department of the Kurdish administration called on international organizations to help stop the disease.
Cholera— an acute bacterial infection that can be contracted by ingesting contaminated food or water. Most people who are infected do not develop any symptoms or have a mild illness. In severe cases, the disease causes acute diarrhea and can result in the death of the patient.
According to WHO, from 1.3 million to 4 million cases of cholera and 21–143 thousand deaths are recorded annually in the world.
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An outbreak of cholera has been recorded in various parts of Syria. According to the Kurdish autonomous administration, not recognized by Damascus, three people were killed. This was reported by RIA Novosti with reference to the local TV channel.
It is noted that the dead fell ill with cholera in Raqqa and in the area Deir ez-Zor. At least 15 cases are currently known in the region. The Kurdish autonomous authority administration department of health requested international organizations to assist in the fight against the spread of the infection.
In addition, 15 cases of cholera have been reported in Aleppo province. The Ministry of Health Syria clarified that samples of cholera were found in the wastewater and the factory for the production of ice cubes, the enterprise was immediately closed.
Earlier it was also reported that in Spain the first case of infection was detected cholera since 1979. According to the Spanish Ministry of Health, a minor girl contracted cholera after she drank unpurified water on a farm in the province of Toledo.
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“MuiTypography-root-229 MuiTypography-h1-234″>Reports show British teenager was allegedly trafficked to ISIS by Canadian agentThe WorldSeptember 1, 2022 · 3:15 PM EDT
- By Omar Duwaji
A three-image combo of stills taken from CCTV footage shows Kadiza Sultana, left, Shamima Begum, centre and and Amira Abase going through security at Gatwick airport. Feb. 23, 2015.
Metropolitan Police via AP/File photo
There's been a new revelation in the case of a British woman accused of joining ISIS as a teenager that now implicates Canada.
Shamima Begum left the UK as a teenager for Syria in 2015, with two of her friends Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase. In Begum's case, the British government accused her of joining the terrorist group and stripped her of her citizenship.
But a book about Begum and other women who joined ISIS, called "Guest House for Young Widows," says that a spy for Canada's intelligence service helped smuggle the teenager into Syria. And this information is casting her story in a new light.
Azadeh Moaveni is the author of the book. She's also the director of the Gender and Conflict Project at the International Crisis Group in New York. She spoke with The World's host Carol Hills about the new revelation and its implications.
Carol Hills: Can you remind our audience about who Shamima Begum is?Azadeh Moaveni: She was 15. She was in high school in early 2015 when she was groomed and eventually trafficked to the Islamic State in Syria. She left with two other friends. They were part of a group of girls that Islamic State recruiters had been working on, both online and on the streets of London, trying to get them to Syria, because part of the Islamic State's project was to bring in brides for fighters. And that was very much at the center of how it attracted so many thousands of people from around the world.And what is Shamima Begum's status now and where is she?Shamima is now in northeast Syria. She's in a detention camp for, basically, women and children who were affiliated with ISIS fighters. And legally, the trouble is that many of these women were teenagers when they were brought to ISIS with their families or were groomed or trafficked there.And I assume that she has lawyers who are trying to push her case to get her back to the UK.She does. There have been multiple cases. Most recently, they've appealed to bring her back to the UK so that she could appeal the loss of her citizenship there on grounds that it's quite impossible to do that from a desert camp. But the accusation that she was trafficked is at the center of the case made by her lawyers. So, these revelations are potentially going to really upend, possibly, the legal outcomes for her, because if they can show that she was trafficked by a spy working for Canada as a teenager, then, I think that could have a sort of powerful boost for her legal team.Explain the accusation that centers on someone working with Canada's intelligence service who trafficked her. What is the claim?So, these actually are not entirely new claims because the background that's been filled out in the last few days by the new reporting shows that he was a Syrian man, he had applied for citizenship or a visa to Canada. And the Canadians said that he would get that in exchange for spying. So, what he did was he ferried Westerners. He would take them down to the border and then send their information to Canada, which is in an intelligence alliance with the UK, with the US.So, essentially, this was a sort of Western intelligence manner of getting information about citizens of these countries who are traveling to this very dangerous place, who are also potentially going to become involved in terror plots in other parts of the world, too. But to your point about what does it mean that Canada was employing an agent to do this, there was a great deal of that going on at the time. You know, double agents, Western intelligence agencies trying to get information about their nationals, so they could stop them if they came back to their home countries and prosecute them. In this case, though, I think it raises really serious legal implications, because these were minors. In this instance, I think it has really grave implications for Canada, which is why it seems, according to the new reporting, that the Canadians were so eager to cover this up and ask the British to help them with that.How has Canada responded to these accusations?Canada has said that it will investigate them thoroughly. The reaction has been quite opaque. But I think another point to raise is, why we're learning about these things now, because the journalists who've been doing this reporting have seemingly known about this for some time, and it's very much in the public interest to know that there was a Canadian asset involved in the trafficking. It's kind of central to the decision by the British authorities to strip Shamima Begum of her British citizenship. So, the media has very much been a real character in the development of the case of Shamima Begum, because they arrived very quickly after she surfaced, and she became a monster in the British press.So, what comes next for Shamima Begum? Where does this case go?I suspect that her legal team will bring another appeal to the British courts, asking for her to be brought back to the UK to appeal the loss of her British citizenship from there. It's a sort of circular way of getting her back to the UK for prosecution or whatever is deemed appropriate for her, without challenging the citizenship stripping from this camp in Syria, where it's inconceivable that they could manage it from there. And also, it is a bit of a battle of public opinion.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.AP contributed to this report.
Photo: Natalia Gubernatorova
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia is still interested in a settlement in Syria. He said this at a meeting with the special envoy of the UN Secretary General Geyer Pedersen.
According to him, information that Russia has lost interest in the Syrian settlement due to a special operation is “spread by some Western colleagues.”
“They [information] does not reflect our consistent line on seeking a comprehensive Syrian settlement, including supporting your mission,” Lavrov said.
CENTCOM: Three US soldiers were injured in Syria during a missile attack on a base by “Iranian militants” The US command accused militants “supported by Iran” of attacking two military bases in Syria. Three victims have minor injuries, one of them has already returned to service. The attack was repelled by attack helicopters on Biden's orders
Three US servicemen were injured in a missile attack on a military base in Syria by “Iran-backed militants,” US Central Command (CENTCOM) said.
The attack began around 19:20 local time (coinciding with Moscow), according to a CENTCOM release, the Conoco and Green Village bases were attacked, one US military received minor injuries, after which he returned to duty. Two other injured soldiers are still being examined by doctors for minor injuries. US attack helicopters returned fire and destroyed at least three vehicles and several people who “were responsible for launching the missiles.”
“We have a full range of threat mitigation capabilities across the region, and we have full confidence in our ability to protect our troops and coalition partners from attack, — assured the commander of CENTCOM, General Michael Kurilla.
The message from the command notes that the United States does not seek a conflict with Iran, but intends to take the measures necessary to protect the Americans. NBC writes that the order to retaliate was given by US President Joe Biden, we are talking about Apache attack helicopters.
Iran condemns the US intervention in the armed conflict in Syria, President Embrahim Raisi pointed to the need to allow the people of the country to determine their own future without the presence of “occupying forces”. The Iranian president accused the United States of stealing resources from Syria (including oil) and expressed confidence that the conflict in the republic could not be resolved militarily, political action was needed. Raisi considered the Astana format, within which the leaders of the countries meet, to be effective.
The parties have recently exchanged blows more than once, in particular, on August 15, on August 15, Iranian drones attacked the territory controlled by the US-backed opposition coalition. As a result, no one was hurt, wrote Reuters. On August 24, American forces attacked infrastructure facilities in Deir ez-Zor, which are used by groups associated with the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Biden gave such an order, the US Army Central Command noted.
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The race for oil continues, but relations between Iran and the United States will not change
Following the tension over Taiwan and the start of military exercises in South Korea, there is a reason to recall the Middle East “hot spots” . The United States also attacked the Syrian Deir ez-Zor. The airstrikes were attributed to America's response to an attack against the Al-Tanf military base in Syria on August 15th. What are the consequences of Washington's actions – Let's understand our material.
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden ordered airstrikes against Iranian-backed groups in Syria, CNN reported. The order comes just over a week after several rockets landed near a US military base in northeast Syria.
Biden “directed these strikes in accordance with his authority.” under Article II, to defend and protect US personnel by disrupting or deterring attacks by Iranian-backed groups,” the US Central Command said in an official statement.
Joe Buccino, spokesman for the Central Command (CENTCOM), also said in a statement that “the airstrikes carried out by the US military were directed against Iranian-backed groups in Deir ez-Zor in Syria. The strikes targeted infrastructure facilities used by groups associated with the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.” (IRGC).
Buccino added that these targeted strikes are designed to protect US forces from attacks similar to those carried out on August 15 against US personnel by Iranian-backed groups.
Recall that last week several rockets were fired at the Green Village military base in northeastern Syria. No one was hurt in the attack. On Monday, US-led coalition forces disabled several drones.
Buccino also told CNN that the US had targeted a group of bunkers used to store ammunition and logistical support for pro-Iranian groups in Syria. He also added that the US military controlled a total of 13 bunkers for more than 400 hours.
The attack was made on 11 bunkers, because the US, according to Buccino, cannot be sure that there are no people in the other two bunkers. However, foreign media noted that the strike was nevertheless carried out on 9 bunkers, since there was a small crowd of people near two more targets.
Although the airstrike on shelters was carried out in response to the attack on August 15, press the CENTCOM secretary noted that they were not used by the Iranian militias in this particular attack.
A U.S. official has previously said the attacked base has a “small number” of coalition forces, including US military personnel.
The US interest in Deir ez-Zor does not look like just defending one's own dignity. When it comes to this specific territorial zone, the personal interests of the States come to the fore.
– There are deposits of Syrian oil in Deir ez-Zor, – comments the director of the “Center for the Study of the Middle East and Central Asia” Semyon Bagdasarov. – This oil is controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is patronized by the United States. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps wants these deposits to belong to Syria. The Americans do not like this, which is why there was a blow to the IRGC units. But I believe that this situation will not affect the relations between Iran and America in any way. Tehran, I think, will still sign an agreement on the nuclear program and I don’t think that there will be any negative moments.
It’s also not worth talking about another escalation of the conflict, the expert believes, “There is a hot spot in the Syrian direction can organize Turkey. This is definitely so. But the United States to a lesser extent, so there is no need to talk about a negative scenario.
According to official figures, the United States maintains about 900 troops in Syria. They are located between the At-Tanf base and the country's eastern oil fields.
Reuters: The first ship with Ukrainian grain came to Syria after Lebanon's refusal Dry-cargo ship Razoni under the flag of Sierra Leone, loaded with 26,000 tons of corn, sailed from the port of Odessa on August 1. It became the first ship to leave Ukraine along the grain corridor. The cargo was intended for Lebanon, but it refused
The first ship that left Ukraine along the grain corridor two weeks ago approached the Syrian port of Tartus on Sunday, Reuters reported, citing two sources.
Dry cargo ship Razoni under the flag of Sierra Leone, loaded with 26 thousand tons of corn, sailed from the port of Odessa on August 1. Initially, the cargo was destined for Lebanon. However, the country refused it, explaining the decision by the delay. The ship then proceeded to Turkey. On August 11, it moored in Mersin. However, the next day, the cargo ship put to sea again, turning off the transponder.
Two sources, one of which is in Tartus, confirmed to Reuters on Sunday that the vessel was approaching a Syrian port.
In near the Syrian port of Tartus there is a logistics center for the Russian Navy
Ukraine has previously accused Russia of exporting grain. In particular, Reuters, citing the Ukrainian embassy in Lebanon, reported that since the outbreak of hostilities, Moscow has exported at least 150,000 tons of grain from the neighboring country to Syria.
The Kremlin called reports of grain theft “fake”. The UN did not confirm Russia's guilt either. Syrian Ambassador Riyad Haddad said that the country is supplied with wheat from Russia under long-term contracts concluded before the start of the Russian military operation in Ukraine.
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Ukraine severed diplomatic relations with Syria at the end of June, after Damascus recognized the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics. In response, Syria terminated relations with Ukraine.
At the end of July, Russia and Ukraine separately concluded agreements with Turkey and the UN on the export of grain from three Ukrainian ports— Odessa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny. A coordinating center was established in Istanbul, which controls the export of grain. After that, vessels with grain began to leave the Ukrainian ports. So, on the eve of the dry cargo ship Fulmar S under the flag of Barbados with 12 thousand tons. tons of corn left Chernomorsk and headed for Turkish Iskenderun. Another ship with 3 thousand tons of sunflower seeds left Chornomorsk for Tekirdag.
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Ships from three fleets of Russia at once took part in the naval parade in honor of the Day of the Russian Navy, which was held in the Syrian city of Tartus. This was reported by the Russian Ministry of Defense.
It became known that 13 ships and vessels of the Black Sea, Pacific and Northern fleets of the Russian Navy took part in the parade. In addition, aircraft airplanes anti-submarine ship “Vice-Admiral Kulakov”, frigate “Admiral Grigorovich”, frigate “Admiral Fleet Kasatonov”, small missile ship “Orekhovo-Zuevo”, sea minesweeper “Vladimir Yemelyanov”, as well as submarines “Novorossiysk” ; and Krasnodar.
It is specified that the parade also involved a sea minesweeper and two missile boats of the Syrian Navy, helicopters and fighter jets of the Syrian armed forces.
Earlier Head of the Russian Defense Ministry Sergei Shoigu, in his congratulations on the Day of the Russian Navy, said that the Russian fleet successfully ensures the country's security.
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“MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>'I'm being strangled here': Refugees returned by Turkey to Syria say conditions are bleak
In the Turkish city of Istanbul, police have continued a stepped-up campaign of random ID checks in immigrant neighborhoods. This week, officials acknowledged that 19,000 people have been deported over the past eight months. It’s not clear how many of them are Syrians.
The WorldJuly 28, 2022 · 1:45 PM EDT
In this photo taken on July 31, 2019, Syrians pass time at a coffee shop in an Istanbul neighborhood where many Syrians live. Syrians say Turkey has been detaining and forcing some Syrian refugees to return back to their country over the past year. The expulsions reflect increasing anti-refugee sentiment in Turkey, which opened its doors to millions of Syrians fleeing their country's civil war.
Seven months ago, Ahmed earned a good living as a tailor in Istanbul, supporting his wife and their 10-year-old son.
They had fled the Syrian city of Aleppo in 2012, around the start of the country’s civil war, as the front lines drew closer to their home. They built a new life for themselves in Turkey, making friends and learning the language.
But all of it came crashing down last January when Ahmed was stopped by authorites for a random ID check on his way home from the grocery store, and deported to Syria, despite having legal papers that allowed him to live in Turkey.
“I’m being strangled here,” Ahmed said. “I just want to return to my wife and son. That’s the bottom line.”
Because he is in a part of the country controlled by pro-Turkish militias, The World is not publishing his last name out of concern for his safety.
Ahmed’s story has strong parallels to testimonies given by other Syrians who say they were arrested at random checkpoints, detained and coerced or forced to sign legal documents saying they were voluntarily returning to Syria.
It’s part of a larger sweep that has been ramping up in Turkey since January.
In the Turkish city of Istanbul, police have continued a stepped-up campaign of random ID checks in immigrant neighborhoods. This past week, officials acknowledged that at least 19,000 people in the city have been deported over the past eight months. It’s not clear how many of them are Syrians. A government spokesman declined to comment on the cases mentioned in this story.
“No sane person would voluntarily return to Syria at this point,” said Nesreen Alresh, a Gaziantep-based activist working with the Voices for Displaced Syrians Forum (VDSF). “People risked their lives to be here, they didn’t come as tourists.”
Syria, a nation of 17.5 million people, remains controlled by militias and government forces, with clashes breaking out regularly. With 90% of the population living below the poverty line, millions of people are relying on humanitarian aid, deliveries of which are unreliable and based on agreements between warring factions.
And yet, sending Syrians back to Syria is a popular idea among Turkish voters. It has become an election promise for opposition candidates, as reports of hate crimes and bullying toward Syrian refugees continue to rise.
On May 3, in a televised address, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced a government plan to resettle up to a million Syrian refugees in parts of Syria under Turkish control. The country has already begun to build 100,000 cinder block homes funded by relief groups.
“We have not only opened our doors to save the lives and dignity of the oppressed, but we have also made every effort to help them return to their homes,” Erdoğan said. “We believe that our God bestows much more on us.”
Already, Erdoğan said that 500,000 refugees have resettled in “safe zones” created by the Turkish military in northern Syria.
The United Nations, however, estimates the number of total refugee returns from Turkey to be closer to 140,000 across the entire country of Syria.
And yet, these returns are likely not entirely voluntary. In a VSDF report based on interviews with returnees from several nations to Syria, 22% of respondents said they were forced by their host countries to return. Another 16% said they were pressured by authorities to go.
The returns have put families like Ahmed’s in a precarious situation.
Ahmed is the primary breadwinner for his wife and son and his deportation to Syria, he said, has left them homeless.
“My family sold the furniture, and now they’re living with the neighbors,” Ahmed said. “Business owners won’t allow women to work if they have a child.”
Desperate, he scraped together a personal loan to send her 500 Turkish liras, or $28.
His only hope at this point, he said, is to borrow enough money to pay smugglers to help him cross the border back into Turkey. He would be breaking the law for the first time, he said, but it would potentially enable him to bring a case to court alleging that he was wrongly deported.
“I dare to speak because I know that I’ve done nothing wrong,” Ahmed said.
‘I have no criminal cases against me’
Ahmed’s experience isn’t isolated.
Hussein, a Syrian refugee who says he was deported from Istanbul in March, recalls being stopped by a plainclothes policeman who asked to see his ID. He presented a temporary protection card given to Syrian refugees in Turkey, but admitted that he had had difficulties updating his information in an online system two months prior.
To his surprise, he was handcuffed and taken on a bus with dozens of others to a migrant detention center.
“I have no criminal cases against me, nothing,” he said.
After 10 days in detention, Hussein said that he and 150 others were put on a bus, and sent to Kilis, a city on Turkey’s eastern border with Syria. He remembers a fenced area with low, prefabricated containers used in construction areas. People were told to wait outside before being called into the trailer in groups of five.
There, Hussein said, a Syrian translator told the men to sign papers so they could return to their home city, Istanbul. But some members of the group spoke Turkish and realized that they were being asked to sign a document agreeing to “voluntarily return” to Syria.
"They said, 'Sign it with your dignity — or you’ll be beaten,'" Hussein said.
Hussein said he personally witnessed men who refused to sign and were beaten into submission. Word spread quickly, down the line.
So, he signed.
The group was bussed across the border, into a section of Syria under the control of Turkish-backed militias.
Hussein has been there ever since. In Turkey, he was working to support his family — his wife and two children stayed in Syria. He was hoping to bring them to Turkey.
Now, he said, he has no work and no prospects. Utilities are minimal — his family relies on expensive water deliveries and privately generated electricity.
Also, he worries about an expected military incursion from Turkey, which Erdoğan has said he is planning in an effort to combat Kurdish militias accused of working with the PKK.
Complicating matters, these militias are also backed by the United States, a NATO ally.
“The security situation is stable now, but it can turn upside down at any moment,” Hussein said.
Translation from Arabic provided by Kinan Diab of the Voices for Displaced Syrians Forum.
The Ministry of Defense reported that the Russian military was not injured after the terrorist attack in Syria
Ministry of Defense: Russian military were not injured after the terrorist attack in the Syrian city of Al-Sukeylabiya
Russian military personnel were not injured as a result of a terrorist attack carried out by militants in the Syrian city of Al-Sukeylabiya. This was announced by the deputy head of the Russian Center for the Reconciliation of Warring Parties in Syria, Captain First Rank Yevgeny Gerasimov, TASS reports. terrorist attack using an unmanned aerial vehicle.
“July 24, in the city of Es-Sukeylabiya, Hama province, during the opening ceremony of the Hagia Sophia temple” militants of illegal armed formations committed a terrorist act using a handicraft unmanned aerial vehicle. As a result of the explosion of a UAV launched by terrorists, two civilians were killed and 13 civilians were injured. Russian military personnel were not injured as a result of the terrorist attack, — said Gerasimov.
Earlier on July 24, the Syrian SANA agency reported that terrorists from the Jabhat al-Nusra group (banned in Russia), based in northwestern Syria, fired a rocket at the city of Al-Sukeylabiya in the province of Hama. According to the agency, a shell exploded on the square where folk celebrations were held on the occasion of the opening of the Hagia Sophia in this city. According to the agency's medical sources, two civilians were killed, and 12 more were taken to the hospital with injuries.
“MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>Jackie Chan is producing a movie in Syria. Some Syrians are outraged.
Jackie Chan, known for his action movies, martial arts and acrobatic fighting style, is producing a new film called “Home Operation.” This one though, is not set in Tokyo or LA, but in the leveled and destroyed town of Al-Hajar al-Aswad on the outskirts of Damascus, Syria. The news has outraged some Syrians who say their destroyed homes are not props for foreign film productions.
The WorldJuly 22, 2022 · 3:00 PM EDT
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, smoke rises after Syrian government airstrikes and shelling hit in Hajar al-Aswad neighborhood held by ISIS militants, southern Damascus, Syria, April 22, 2018.
SANA via AP
Growing up in Syria, Mohammad al-Abdallah loved watching Jackie Chan movies. They were dubbed in Arabic, and Chan’s acrobatic style of martial arts just blew him away.
“Like, even in school, sometimes people tried to copy him. So, he was a legend to our generation,” Abdallah said.
Abdallah comes from a family of activists in Syria. He was jailed and tortured by the government, he said, and had to flee to the US. He now directs the Syria Justice and Accountability Center, a human rights organization in Washington.
Syria is home for Abdallah, but one that he can’t return to. At least not now. So, this past week, when he found out that Chan was producing a film in his home country, his ears perked up; but after he learned the details, he was disappointed.
Chan’s production team began filming “Home Operation,” in Syria this past week. The location is a city called Al-Hajar al-Aswad, outside of the capital, Damascus. The area was a stronghold for the opposition during the war. The news has outraged some Syrians like Abdallah, who say their destroyed homes are not props for foreign film productions.
“These used to be homes of people and schools of children and hospitals for elders and it all does not exist now, and the government of Syria is just renting it to Jackie Chan and his production company to make a movie.”
In 2015, ISIS took over the city, and three years later, Syrian government forces drove the militants out.
Years of fighting leveled Al-Hajar al-Aswad. Today, what’s left is mostly just pulverized buildings and destroyed roads.
“As far as we know, there might still be bodies under the rubble,” said Alia Malek, a Syrian American writer and director of the international reporting program at City University of New York’s Newmark Graduate School of Journalism.
Malek has written about high-level Syrian security officers taken to court in Germany for their crimes. She said that Al-Hajar-al-Aswad is the site of potential war crimes.
“So, these sites should be preserved, in theory, if we are a world that cares about accountability and justice,” she said.
“Home Operation” is based on a true story. In 2015, the Chinese navy carried out a rescue operation in Yemen to evacuate a group of Chinese citizens and other people. They were trapped there because of the war.
The operation was touted as a huge success in China. Now, the Chinese government wants to chronicle the event in this movie, which is also getting support from the United Arab Emirates.
The movie is being shot in Syria instead of Yemen because of the ongoing war there. There are no reports about Chan himself being on the ground in Syria.
Malek pointed out that using a city in Syria that hasn’t recovered from war as a backdrop for a movie normalizes brutality and atrocities.
“It’s becoming increasingly more normal — the idea that authoritarian or totalitarian regimes are able to act with impunity,” she said. “The more normalized Arab or Syrian death is, the more we are all, as a human race, diminished by that.”
In recent years, as the fighting slowed down, foreign filmmakers, YouTube celebrities and influencers started going to Syria on government-sponsored trips. They claim to show the “real Syria” where things are perfectly normal and people are living side by side in peace.
“The idea that you can go and get a great TikTok video or Instagram video or YouTube video from Syria is part and parcel of that normalization,” Malek said.
Last week, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, himself, strolled through the ruins of Aleppo, another city destroyed in the war. Photos posted online showed him and his family in casual summer linen, looking as if they are on a Mediterranean vacation.
“They walk around like, ‘Oh, where did this destruction come from?’ As if they didn’t have a hand in it,” Malek said.
For Syrian filmmaker Waad al-Kateab, influencers and artists flocking to Syria for content is just painful.
“It’s really difficult just to think about it,” she said.
Kateab made a documentary about the uprisings in Syria called “For Sama,” that was nominated for an Oscar in 2020. She fled her home in Aleppo and now lives in the UK.
She said that she’s also troubled about “Home Operation” being shot in Syria.
“We’re worried to see our own neighborhoods, where we grew up, our own houses, which were destroyed by the regime, [become] like a part of a film set,” she said.
Chan’s publicist didn’t respond to an interview request for this story.
The decision was made in response to a similar step by the Ukrainian side. Kyiv decided to break off relations with Damascus after the latter recognized the independence of the DPR and LPR .jpg” alt=”Syria has decided to break off diplomatic relations with Ukraine” />
Syria decided to break off diplomatic relations with Ukraine after a similar decision by Kyiv, the Syrian state news agency SANA reports, citing a source in the Foreign Ministry.
The Ukrainian authorities announced their decision to terminate relations with Damascus at the end of June. The reason was the decision of Syria to recognize the LPR and the DPR. In Kyiv, it was regarded as an unfriendly act, an encroachment on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state, a “gross violation” Ukrainian legislation and international law.
“The Ukrainian side is also starting the procedure for imposing a trade embargo against Syria, as well as the adoption of other sanctions against Syrian legal entities and individuals,” added in the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry. At the same time, Ukraine maintained consular ties with Syria.
Damascus announced its decision to recognize the DPR and LPR on June 29. Syria became the first state after Russia recognized at the UN level to declare such an intention. The Arab Republic also announced agreements on strengthening cooperation and establishing diplomatic relations with the DPR and LPR.
DPR Foreign Minister Natalya Nikonorova then announced that the process of recognizing the republic by Syria “is going intensively”, they cooperate in the fields of education, science, medicine and political construction.
On July 13, the DPRK announced the recognition of the republics of Donbass. Kyiv severed diplomatic relations with Pyongyang, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky promised to respond harshly to this step of the North Korean authorities. In response, the DPRK Foreign Ministry said that Ukraine has no right to object to the “legitimate manifestation of sovereignty” North Korea.
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Russia recognized the LPR and DPR in February, shortly before the start of the military operation in Ukraine. The Kremlin said that they would welcome the recognition of the republics by other countries.
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Putin announced the need to put an end to ISIS in Syria forever According to the President of Russia, real threats of crime and extremism emanate from areas not controlled by the Syrian authorities, and the destructive line of Western countries largely contributes to this
Western countries, led by the United States, are pursuing a destructive policy in Syria, because they want to bring things to the dismemberment of this state, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a trilateral meeting of heads of state— guarantors of the Astana process.
Of particular concern is the state of affairs in the territories not controlled by the Syrian authorities. “We see that real threats of crime, extremism, separatism come from these regions. In many ways, this is facilitated by the destructive line of the Western states, led by the United States, in order to ultimately bring the matter to the dismemberment of the Syrian state, — said the president.
In this regard, it is important that the guarantors of the Astana process take “additional steps aimed at stabilizing the situation in these areas and returning them to the control of the legitimate Syrian government,” he said. Putin also said that “the presence of ISIS (a terrorist organization banned in Russia) and other extremist groups in Syria must be permanently eliminated.”
Tripartite Summit of States— guarantors of the Astana process to end the civil war in Syria is taking place in Tehran. Prior to this, the presidents of Russia, Turkey and Iran, Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Ibrahim Raisi held a series of bilateral meetings.
During his speech at the summit, Putin said that the work of the three countries to resolve the crisis in Syria was generally effective. “I also want to note that the next summit of the “Astana Troika” in turn, it is supposed to be held in our country. And we, of course, will be glad to see all of you, dear colleagues, in Russia,»,— summed up Putin.
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Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi said that US troops should leave Syria and the region as soon as possible, since the “illegal presence” American forces became a “destabilizing factor.” In addition to the fact that the United States is increasing the number of its military bases, “they are also stealing natural resources,” said Raisi.
The only way to secure the Syrian borders— it is more active interaction of its armed forces with friendly states. “Experience has shown that the violation of the territorial integrity of Syria will not be able to help in the fight against terrorism,” — said the President of Iran.
In a conversation with Erdogan, he said that any attack on northern Syria would definitely harm Turkey, Syria and the entire region. In early June, Turkey announced the launch of a new operation in the region, calling it the creation of a security zone to protect against terrorists.
“Astana Troika”— group of Russia, Turkey and Iran, created after the talks in Astana in January 2017. Its goal is to resolve the military conflict in Syria. The participating countries regularly hold summits and make decisions to resolve the situation.
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October 7, 1952
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Russia, Iran and Turkey reject all unilateral sanctions against Damascus. The parties remain committed to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria
The next trilateral summit in the Astana format with the participation of Turkey and Iran will be held in Russia. This is stated in a joint statement by Presidents Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Ibrahim Raisi.
“The Presidents decided to hold the next trilateral summit in the Russian Federation at the invitation of the President of the Russian Federation, His Excellency Vladimir Putin,” the statement says.
«Astana Troika»— a group of Russia, Turkey and Iran, created after negotiations in Astana in January 2017. Its goal is to resolve the military conflict in Syria. The participating countries regularly hold summits and make decisions to resolve the situation.
According to the statement, the next summit should take place before the end of 2022. It is noted that the parties intend to expand the format of the summit beyond the situation in Syria.
The joint statement said that Russia, Iran and Turkey reject all unilateral sanctions against Damascus. The parties remain committed to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the country. It is noted that the Syrian conflict has no military solution, it “can be resolved only in the course of a political process led and carried out by the Syrians themselves with the assistance of the UN in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2254.” At the same time, the presidents intend to continue to eliminate terrorists in Syria.
Separately, the parties condemned Israeli military attacks on civilian targets in Syria. The statement says that this violates international law and the territorial integrity of Syria and increases tension in the region.
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“In addition to the Syrian issue, we reaffirmed our intention to strengthen trilateral coordination in various fields in order to promote joint political and economic cooperation”,— specified in the application.
Earlier at the meeting, the Iranian president condemned the US intervention in the Syrian conflict and demanded the withdrawal of US troops from the country. Raisi accused the United States of stealing resources from Syria, including oil.
Vladimir Putin's visit to Tehran was the first trip of a Russian president outside the CIS countries since the start of a special military operation in Ukraine. In addition to the trilateral meeting, Putin also held separate talks with Raisi and Erdogan.
Putin discussed with Erdogan the problem of food security and the supply of Russian and Ukrainian grain. Putin thanked the Turkish president for mediating negotiations on the export of grain through the Black Sea. “With your mediation, we have moved forward. True, not all issues have yet been resolved, but the fact that there is a movement is already good, — he noted.
Last week, Moscow submitted its proposals to resolve the situation with the supply of grain. As stated in the Russian Ministry of Defense, the parties generally supported them. According to Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, the next talks are scheduled for this week.
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The US should stop plundering Syria by smuggling oil out of that country. This was stated by Russian President Vladimir Putin following a meeting with the leaders of Iran and Turkey, RIA Novosti reports.
“We (Russia, Turkey and Iran.— RBC) and general positions on the Trans-Euphrates, related to the fact that American troops should leave this territory and should stop robbing the Syrian state, the Syrian people, exporting oil illegally,— he said.
At the meeting itself, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi stated this. He accused the US authorities of stealing Syrian resources, including oil. Raisi urged Washington to withdraw its troops from the Arab Republic as soon as possible. According to him, the Syrian crisis has no military solution, the conflict can only be resolved through political means, and military actions can worsen the situation. Raisi found the Astana format effective.
Putin responded by talking about the “destructive line of Western states led by the United States”, which contributes to the growth of crime, extremism, separatism” in the territories not controlled by the Syrian authorities.
The US military contingent is in Syria under the auspices of the fight against militants of terrorist groups, in particular ISIS (banned in Russia). Washington has repeatedly reported the liquidation of members of terrorist organizations. So, on July 12, the US Central Command announced the elimination of the head of the local ISIS cell, Mahir al-Agala.
Photo: Global Look Press
The presidents of Russia, Iran and Turkey in Tehran discussed the accumulated issues on Syria for about an hour. The leaders of the three countries agreed to establish close cooperation in order to normalize the situation in the Syrian Arab Republic.
The parties stressed that the Syrian crisis can only be resolved through diplomacy, and the Syrians themselves should determine the country's domestic policy without external interference.
Putin's main theses from the statement following the meeting:
- The Syrians themselves should determine the future of Syria without imposing any recipes and models from outside;
- The next consultations on Syria should take place before the end of the year;
- The legitimate authorities of Syria have regained control over a large territory of the country;
- The international community needs to increase support for Syria through the restoration of infrastructure.
Putin also assessed the results of the bilateral talks. For example, he said that during a conversation with Raisi, they agreed to switch to the use of national currencies. He also said that he had discussed the “grain issue” with Erdogan.
Ebrahim Raisi believes that the US should withdraw troops from Syria. He pointed out that the fate of the country should be decided without foreign interference. According to the Iranian leader, the Syrian conflict can only be resolved by political means =”The President of Iran announced the need for an early withdrawal of US troops from Syria” />
The United States must withdraw troops from Syria and the entire region as soon as possible, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said at a summit on the settlement of the Syrian conflict with the participation of leaders Russia and Turkey, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
«The fate of Syria should be decided by its people, without foreign interference <…> the illegal presence of US occupying forces will destabilize Syria <…> the powerful presence of the Syrian army will help to preserve the integrity of the country”, — said the Iranian leader (quoted by Reuters).
According to him, the Syrian crisis has no military solution, the conflict can only be resolved through political means, and military action can worsen the situation. Raisi considered the Astana format effective, within which the leaders of the countries meet.
Putin in response spoke about the “destructive line of Western states led by the United States”, which contributes to the growth of crime, extremism, separatism” in the territories not controlled by the Syrian authorities.
The material is being supplemented.
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Mahir al-Aghal was killed in a drone attack in the northwest of the country jpg” alt=”The United States announced the elimination of the head of the IS cell in Syria” />
As a result of drone strikes by the US Air Force in Syria, the head of the local cell of the “Islamic State” was eliminated. (a terrorist organization banned in Russia) Mahir al-Agal. This is reported by Reuters with reference to the central command of the US troops.
The terrorist was eliminated in northwestern Syria. Also, the defense department spoke about the serious injury of his accomplice.
“According to preliminary data, there are no civilian casualties,”— the statement says.
The department notes that Mahir al-Agal— one of the five leaders of ISIS. He was responsible for creating a network of militants outside of Iraq and Syria.
In early February, the then head of the IGABU, Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Kureishi, was eliminated. He was elected head of ISIS in October 2019 after the terrorist organization confirmed the death of its founder and first leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. As a result of the operation to eliminate al-Qureishi, at least three civilians were killed, Pentagon chief John Kirby admitted. According to Reuters, al-Quraishi detonated a bomb in his house during a US special forces raid, killing his family members.
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A compromise project was adopted by Ireland and Norway, earlier the Security Council could not approve the resolutions proposed by Russia and the West. Moscow believes that the mechanism of humanitarian aid through the checkpoint with Turkey should be curtailed and imported through Damascus
The UN Security Council adopted a resolution to extend for six months the mechanism for the cross-border delivery of humanitarian aid to Syria through Turkey, with the possibility of extending for another for six months. The broadcast was conducted in the YouTube organization.
The resolution of Norway and Ireland was supported by representatives of 12 countries. The US, UK and France abstained, no one voted against.
Irish Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason noted at the meeting that “it's no secret that the negotiations have been difficult.” According to her, when preparing the document, Ireland and Norway were guided only by considerations of the humanitarian needs of the Syrian people.
Dmitry Polyansky, First Deputy Representative of Russia to the UN, indicated at the meeting that Russia supports the resolution. “We catch some disappointment of a number of our colleagues due to the fact that their vision of extending the TGM (transboundary mechanism) did not work out in the end,” — Polyansky noted. The deputy representative noted that the “optimal formula” was found extension of the cross-border mechanism.
On July 8, the UN Security Council did not support the Russian draft resolution on the extension of the cross-border delivery of humanitarian aid to Syria through the Bab al-Hawa checkpoint; for six months, with the possibility of extension for the same period by a new resolution. US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Russia's resolution is aimed at helping the Syrian regime, not the people. She noted that in six months it would be impossible to establish a stable supply of aid, and needy Syrians would suffer from this. “Those who did not support our project have demonstrated their real attitude towards the needs and aspirations of ordinary Syrians,” — then Polyansky said.
After that, Russia vetoed a draft resolution by Ireland and Norway to extend the checkpoint for a year. China then abstained, all other members of the Security Council supported the project. The Deputy Representative of Russia pointed out that the project of Western countries “ignored the interests of Damascus.”
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The day before, Polyansky said that an agreement was reached among the members of the Security Council on the extension of the TGM mechanism. According to him, the Russian project “with minor modifications” was taken as a basis.
The cross-border mechanism for the supply of humanitarian aid across the Turkish-Syrian border has been operating since 2014. Initially, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution according to which they were carried out through four checkpoints: Bab al-Hawa, Bab es-Salam, El Yarubiya; and “Al-Ramata” on the borders of Syria with Turkey, Iraq and Jordan. In 2020, the Security Council reduced the number of checkpoints to two, and later— to one, leaving only “Bab al-Hawa”. The validity of cross-border supplies through it expired on July 10.
According to UN Secretary General António Guterres, since 2014, 50,000 trucks with humanitarian aid have crossed the Syrian border. Deputy Secretary General Martin Griffiths called for maintaining the mechanism for delivering aid across the border with Turkey for another year, since 90% of those living in the opposition-held north-west of Syria (4.4 million people) need it.
As noted in June Special Representative of the President of Russia for the Syrian settlement Alexander Lavrentiev, Moscow believes that it is time to turn off the mechanism, since aid should go legally through the capital Damascus. “This mechanism was created as a temporary measure, and, probably, the time has come for all the assistance provided by the international community to go legally through the territory of Syria, through Damascus,” — explained Lavrentiev.
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photo: hulusi akar. source: wikipedia
Ankara will not postpone or avoid a military operation in northern Syria. This was stated by Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on Sunday.
The head of the Ministry of Defense referred to the words of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“As our President stated, there can be no question of to agree to this, it is out of the question for us to listen to this, ”said Akar, quoted by RIA Novosti.
Erdogan previously announced a military operation in Syria, which the international community, according to in his words, “understand”.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview with RT Arabic that the Syrian people and the country's army are ready to confront Turkish troops on their territory, if necessary.
Russia and the United States vetoed draft resolutions on the extension of cross-border assistance to Syria Russia vetoed a draft resolution on the extension of cross-border assistance to Syria for a year due to the fact that Western countries did not fulfill the agreements last year. The United States rejected the Russian draft draft resolutions on assistance to Syria” />
Russia used its veto power in voting in the UN Security Council on a draft resolution on the extension of the mechanism of cross-border assistance to Syria, follows from the broadcast on YouTube.
“Our delegation voted against the draft resolution on the extension of the cross-border assistance mechanism in Syria for one year. The document put to the vote ignored the interests of Damascus, which should be the main beneficiary of the resolution,— said Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN Dmitry Polyansky.
According to him, the project of Ireland and Norway did not take into account the fact that over the past year the Security Council and the UN as a whole failed to establish supplies via intra-Syrian routes to the north-west of the country, increase donor assistance for early recovery projects, and increase transparency in reporting on UN activities in Syria.
The document prepared by Ireland and Norway provided for the continuation of the mechanism for a year— until July 2023. China abstained during the vote, the rest of the Security Council supported it.
In turn, Russia submitted its draft resolution and proposed extending the cross-border assistance mechanism for six months, until January 10, 2023. If the agreements are fulfilled, then an extension for another six months will follow.
The US vetoed the Russian project. Permanent Representative Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Russia's resolution was aimed at helping the Syrian regime, not the people. She noted that in six months it would be impossible to establish a stable supply of aid, and needy Syrians would suffer from this. Thomas-Greenfield called the Russian project wrong for organizing the aid process.
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Representatives of two countries voted in favor of the Russian project, three were against, ten more abstained, summed up the Chairman of the Security Council Ronaldo Costa Filho.
The UN Security Council decided to launch cross-border humanitarian operations in Syria in July 2014 amid hostilities in the country. Until 2020, UN humanitarian agencies and their partners could use four border checkpoints— «Bab es-Salaam» and “Bab el-Hawa” on the border with Turkey, “Al-Yarubiya” on the border with Iraq and “Al-Ramta” on the border with Jordan. The mechanism made it possible to deliver vital products directly to those areas occupied by the opposition, bypassing the government of Bashar al-Assad.
When the Syrian army began to establish control over more and more territory, Damascus and Moscow began to advocate curtailing the work of border crossings. In January 2020, the Security Council extended the operation of two checkpoints on the Turkish border for six months.
In the summer of 2021, the Security Council extended the mechanism after only five attempts. Russia and China twice vetoed the draft resolution of Germany and Belgium. At the same time, the Russian version failed to win the majority of votes twice. As a result, the representatives of the countries compromised and left only the Bab el-Hawa checkpoint open, through which humanitarian goods enter Idlib from Turkey. This resolution expires on July 10.
On June 15, the president's special envoy for the Syrian settlement, Alexander Lavrentiev, stated that Russia was in favor of curtailing the assistance mechanism. He accused the West of violating commitments to implement early recovery projects. Lavrentiev pointed out that Western countries are not easing the sanctions regime.
The day before, before the meeting of the UN Security Council, the Syrians staged a strike near the Bab al-Hawa checkpoint, reported Al Jazeera. They demanded an extension of the assistance mandate, as the termination of the mechanism would endanger the lives of 4.5 million people in the north-west of the country, including 2.5 million internally displaced people.
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“MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>Turkey eyes a new military operation in northern Syria, leaving people in the area on edge
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan says he plans to establish an 18-mile “safe zone” in northern Syria to counter a US-backed Kurdish group. Erdoğan considers the People’s Protection Units, or the YPG, a threat to the security of his country.
The WorldJuly 8, 2022 · 3:30 PM EDT
A Syrian Democratic Forces soldier keeps watch by a prison that was attacked by Islamic State militants, in Hassakeh, Syria, Feb. 8, 2022. Hardly a day passes in northern Syria without Kurdish fighters and opposition gunmen backed by Turkey exchanging gunfire and shelling and concerns are rising that the situation will only get worse in the coming weeks with Ankara threatening to launch a new major operation along its southern border.
The Kurdish group that runs the autonomous region in northeastern Syria announced a state of emergency this week in response to threats from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to start a new military campaign in northern Syria.
The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria called on “all councils, bodies, committees and institutions to prepare for an emergency situation and to put all capabilities in self-defense projects.”
Threats from the Turkish president have been coming in since May.
“We will clean up Tal Rifaat and Manbij of terrorists,” Erdoğan said, referring to the two cities west of the Euphrates river in Syria, at a parliament meeting last month.
The cities are controlled by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara considers a terrorist group. And Turkey claims the YPG has ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which it also considers a terrorist group, because it has waged a war against Turkey for decades.
Erdoğan said he plans to establish an 18-mile “safe zone” in northern Syria to counter the US-backed Kurdish group, and threats of a renewed military offensive have people there on edge.
Fared al-Mahlool, who lives in the area, said he has been hearing about the news for some time.
“Every day, there are Turkish forces entering the country through the border.”
Fared al-Mahlool, lives in Syria
“Every day, there are Turkish forces entering the country through the border,” he told The World over WhatsApp.
Mahlool fled to Idlib from a village further south when his home came under attack in 2019. He lost his aunt and he said that all of his family members were injured.
An attack on Manbij and Tal Rifaat, he said, would threaten the relative and fragile stability in northern Syria.
“The displaced people want to go back to their homes,” he said. “The Turkish operation doesn’t help.”
This wouldn’t be the first time that Turkey has carried out a military operation inside Syria. In 2019, after former President Donald Trump pulled American troops from the border, Turkey entered northern Syria and sent thousands of people fleeing to Iraq. Since then, Turkey has kept a presence inside Syria.
Merve Tahiroglu, Turkey program coordinator at the Project on Middle East Democracy, a Washington-based nongovernmental organization, said that the Turkish president’s threats this time have more to do with what’s happening inside Turkey.
“Currently, [Erdoğan] is performing really badly in all opinion polls, and Turkey is facing a pretty consequential election next summer,” she said.
Inflation in Turkey soared to nearly 80% last month, its highest level in about two decades. And food prices have skyrocketed.
So, Erdoğan is trying to shore up support from a key swing constituency — the hardcore Turkish nationalists, Tahiroglu explained.
“In previous years, every time he has carried out an operation in Syria targeting the YPG, he did manage to increase his popularity and votes among the nationalists,” she said.
Nicholas Heras of the Newlines Institute, also based in Washington, said that Turkey has already amped up its activity in northern Syria in recent weeks, targeting the SDF, the defense arm of the Autonomous Administration.
“There have been a rising number of Turkish drone strikes against various officials, both in the Autonomous Administration, as well as tied to the SDF,” he said.
Heras pointed out that the Biden administration can’t ignore these tensions with Turkey, a NATO ally. Roughly 900 American troops are currently in Syria. The US has strategic interests there, Heras said, both for countering extremist groups and in relation to Russia.
“Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine is the focus of the Biden team's foreign policy. And what they hope to have in Syria is a long-term, quiet presence that has geopolitical impact,” Heras said.
In Turkey, Erdoğan has also presented this military operation as a way to help pave the way for the Syrian refugees in his country to return to Syria, yet another move that would boost his standing with the nationalist voters, Tahiroglu said.
“[It’s] to show his domestic base that he is doing something to create safe zones in Syria, where part of the Syrian refugee population in Turkey can be transferred to and thereby, quote-unquote, 'solve Turkey’s refugee crisis,'” she added.
Last week, speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the NATO summit, Erdoğan seemed to walk back his comments about a military operation in Syria.
“We are in no rush,” he told the journalists.
For now, people in northern Syria are waiting to see what he'll do next.
First Deputy Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN Dmitry Polyansky. Photo: Frame from video.
The UN Security Council did not adopt a resolution to extend for six months the operation of the Bab el-Hawa checkpoint on the Syrian-Turkish border for the cross-border delivery of humanitarian aid to Syria. Two countries, including Russia, voted in favor of this proposal, three voted against it, and another 10 countries abstained.
At the same time, Russia blocked the counter proposal from Norway and Ireland, which also prescribed a mechanism for the cross-border delivery of humanitarian aid to Syria.
First Deputy Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN Dmitry Polyansky explained that Moscow had vetoed this document, as this document ignored the interests of Damascus.
He added that those countries that did not support the Russian project showed indifference to the needs and aspirations ordinary Syrians.
Polyansky stressed that Russia will continue to provide assistance to the Syrian people.
The head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the DPR announced the consent of Syria to participate in the tribunal
Among the countries that will take part in the international tribunal for “war criminals” in the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), there will be the Lugansk People's Republic and Syria, the latter has given preliminary consent, DPR Foreign Minister Natalia Nikonorova said in an interview with TASS.
“There is already a certain understanding of which countries could participate in the tribunal in one capacity or another. <…> Representatives of the relevant bodies of the Russian Federation are already carrying out investigative actions on the territory of the republics,— she said.
The Republic of Turkey is working on a military operation in the north of the Syrian Arab Republic (SAR), anything can happen « suddenly,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
“I have a statement on this subject: we can come suddenly one night. There is no need to fuss. There is no need to rush,” Erdogan told the media on the plane return from Madrid.
According to the Turkish leader, the Turkish leadership is already working in this area right now: in northern Iraq and in Syrian Afrin.Erdogan expressed confidence that Turkey will carry out operations in the most powerful way when the time will come.
Syria announced its intention to recognize the DPR and LPR on June 29. According to Zelensky, after this decision, “there will be no more relations with Syria”, and sanctions pressure on Damascus will increase
Ukraine will sever all relations with Syria after the country's decision to recognize the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics (DNR and LNR). He wrote about this Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in his Telegram channel.
“In this case, there will be no more relations with Syria, and the sanctions pressure against Syria, on the contrary, will be even greater,” — he said.
The day before, on June 29, the SANA agency and the Syrian state television, citing an official source in the Foreign Ministry, announced the decision of the Syrian Arab Republic to recognize the independence of the DPR and LPR. The publications said that the Syrian side would contact both republics regarding agreements to strengthen cooperation and establish diplomatic relations.
The fact that Syria intends to recognize the DPR was announced in mid-June by the head of the republic, Denis Pushilin. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad announced the start of the procedure during the visit of the DPR delegation to Damascus.
Press Secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov noted that Moscow would welcome the recognition of the Donbass republics by Syria. “We will welcome the recognition of the DPR and LPR by other countries, especially the friendly Syrian Arab Republic,” — pointed out the representative of the Kremlin.
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Russia recognized the DPR and LPR as independent states on February 21. Prior to this, a meeting of the Russian Security Council was held, at which Putin recalled the events of 2014 and indicated that after the announcement of their creation, Kyiv carried out “two punitive operations” against the republics, people were “actually mocked” constant shelling, blockade. Currently, in addition to Russia, Abkhazia has also recognized the independence of the republics of Donbass.
A few days after the recognition of the republics, Russia launched a military operation to “demilitarize and denazify” Ukraine. Zelensky did not recognize Russia's decision on the status of the republics and, in response to the special operation, announced a general mobilization and introduced martial law. Kyiv also severed diplomatic relations with Moscow.
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The Syrian Foreign Ministry announced a decision to recognize the independence of the DPR and LPR Syria intends to establish diplomatic relations with the republics. The recognition process has been going on since mid-June, when the DPR delegation visited Damascus =”Syria has decided to recognize the DPR and LPR” />
Syria has decided to recognize the independence of the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics, SANA and Syrian State Television reported, citing an official source in the Foreign Ministry.
“The Syrian Arab Republic has decided to recognize the independence and sovereignty of both the Lugansk People's Republic and the Donetsk People's Republic,” he said.
The publications say that the Syrian side will contact both republics about agreements to strengthen cooperation and establish diplomatic relations.
The fact that Syria intends to recognize the DPR was announced in mid-June by the head of Republic Denis Pushilin. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad announced the beginning of the procedure during the visit of the DPR delegation to Damascus.
DPR Foreign Minister Natalya Nikonorova later said that the process of recognition of the republic by Syria “is going on intensively”, they cooperate in the fields of education, science, medicine and political construction. Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow would welcome the recognition of the Donbass republics by other countries.
Russia recognized the DPR and LPR as independent states on February 21. Prior to this, a meeting of the Russian Security Council was held, at which Putin recalled the events of 2014 and indicated that after the announcement of their creation, Kyiv carried out “two punitive operations” against the republics of them, people were “actually mocked” constant shelling, blockade. The independence of the republics of Donbass was also recognized by Abkhazia.
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President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Joart Tokayev, speaking at the St. . He explained that if the rights of nations to self-determination are realized throughout the world, then 500-600 states will appear on the map instead of the existing 193.
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“MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>Syria's descent into a narco state
The World's Carol Hills spoke with Natasha Hall, a senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, about Syria's drug trade and the country's descent into a narco state status.
The WorldJune 24, 2022 · 3:45 PM EDT
- By Omar Duwaji
Syrian authorities display Captagon pills, in rural Damascus, Syria, which they say they’ve seized while being smuggled in pasta, headed for Saudi Arabia, Nov. 30, 2021.
Syrian official news agency SANA via AP/File photo
Syria's government is enriching itself in the drug trade, according to a new investigation by the German newspaper Der Spiegel.
The report found that senior members of the Syrian government are at the center of the illegal drug trade of the smuggled drug known as Captagon. A picture is now emerging of Syria descending into a narco state.
The World's Carol Hills spoke with Natasha Hall, a senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, about Syria's drug trade and the country's descent into a narco state status.
Carol Hills: The term narco state conjures up a lot of images. Why does it apply to Syria at this point?Natasha Hall: Well, I think that Syria has actually been a narco state for quite some time, but it's sort of risen to the media stature at this point as the drug trade increases. Small factories began emerging in 2013 and were likely connected to Hezbollah, which is a main ally of the Assad government. But as the plundering and seizures of assets that the regime has undertaken, as it's taken more territory in Syria, has somewhat dried up, this new revenue stream began to emerge and now what we're seeing is sort of industrial production-level capacity of this drug called Captagon.Captagon is the drug in question. What is it?So, it has a bit of a storied history. It was developed in 1960 by a German pharmaceutical company for the treatment of attention deficit disorders. But by the '80s, it was banned because of its side effects. But it continued to thrive on the black market, particularly from Bulgaria. It no longer uses the original ingredient, which was fenethylline, which is harder to come by. It's now primarily using pseudoephedrine.And is it a stimulant, a depressant? What are its addictive qualities? I mean, why do people take it?So, it's essentially a low-grade amphetamine. It could potentially become more dangerous, since obviously, it's not a standardized recipe, and we've seen that in the United States as low-grade-type amphetamines have become more dangerous and addictive over time.So, what is the evidence that the family of Bashar al-Assad is involved in the illegal Captagon business?So, that's what's so interesting about these new investigations in Germany because previously, there had been quite a bit of evidence beginning to mount that the Assad regime was at the center of this renewed and more robust drug trade. But it was very difficult to link these huge shipments that we were seeing in Salerno, in Italy, in the Gulf and other places with the actual point of delivery. And in this case, the case in Essen, Germany, could now change that.Briefly describe the case in Essen. What happened?Essentially, what was found is that one particular individual had long had ties to ports in Latakia, which is also a stronghold of the regime, in exporting the drug from there. But essentially, the investigators had been tapping into his phone lines and also tracking the trade for many years now, actually, before they were actually able to arrest him upon his arrival in Germany and tie him to a trade of nearly 130 million euros [$137 million], street value in Captagon.What does this mean for the future of Syria's economy? I mean, is this kind of it?I think it's difficult to determine now, but certainly that's what policymakers need to be looking into. What are the long-term development plans of this industry? You have Lebanon on one side and Iraq on the other, which have militias that are all tied to the Assad government, as well as Iran and global drug trade network. So, this is kind of the perfect storm for a global drug trade to emerge. And within that, you have a country that has been ravaged by war, didn't make more than probably $860 million in legal exports just a couple of years ago. And that compares to billions that it's been making from the Captagon trade.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.