Fresh clashes, shelling in Damascus and Aleppo: watchdog

Updated 16 September 2012
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Fresh clashes, shelling in Damascus and Aleppo: watchdog

BEIRUT: Syrian troops on Sunday fought rebel fighters and shelled their bastions in the country’s two main cities Damascus and Aleppo, a day after UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi warned the conflict threatens world peace.
The fighting in Damascus erupted at dawn and was focused in the northeast suburb of Harasta, while the army shelled the southern suburb of Al-Hajar Al-Aswad from several directions, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Regime forces had deployed in force in Al-Hajar Al-Aswad on Saturday, sparking clashes with rebels that left eight people dead, some of them cut down by sniper fire, the Britain-based Observatory said.
In Aleppo, a child was killed in shelling during the night of the southwest Fardoss neighborhood, the Britain-based watchdog said, adding that a media activist with a rebel group was killed elsewhere in the northern city.
Regime forces also pummeled the eastern districts of Hanano, Sakhur and Sukari, where two rebels were killed early Sunday in shelling.
Fighting also broke out between the army and rebels in Jamiyat Al-Zahra in the west and in Izaa district, the Observatory said.
Violence has raged in Aleppo, Syria’s commercial capital, since July 20 when regime forces launched an offensive in a bid to drive rebels out of the city.
In the central province of Homs, a man was killed in shelling in the town of Tal Kalakh that borders Lebanon, while the town of Krak des Chevaliers also came under shelling, the Observatory said.
Another man was killed by sniper fire in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor while clashes also broke out in the town of Albu Kamal on the Iraqi border.
The violence followed a bloody day in which 115 people — 71 civilians, 12 rebels and 32 soldiers — were killed nationwide in Syria, according to the Observatory, which gathers its information from a network of activists, medical workers and other sources on the ground.
Brahimi, the UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, warned after meeting President Bashar Assad in Damascus on Saturday that the worsening conflict in Syria threatens both the region and the world at large.
“The crisis is dangerous and getting worse, and it is a threat to the Syrian people, the region and the world,” said the newly appointed Brahimi, who took over as envoy earlier this month from former UN chief Kofi Annan.
The Observatory estimates that more than 27,000 people have been killed since the uprising against Assad’s rule erupted in March last year. The United Nations puts the toll at 20,000.


Houthi militia ‘must respect neutrality of aid workers’

Updated 19 January 2019
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Houthi militia ‘must respect neutrality of aid workers’

  • The recommendations came as UN monitors try to strengthen a cease-fire in the port of Hodeidah
  • Houthis were blamed for an attack on a UN convey on Thursday

 NEW YORK: UN experts monitoring sanctions against Yemen are recommending that the Security Council urge the Houthis to respect the neutrality and independence of humanitarian workers.

The Associated Press has obtained the nine recommendations the panel of experts made in their latest report to the council.

The recommendations came as UN monitors try to strengthen a cease-fire in the port of Hodeidah, key to the delivery of 70 percent of Yemen’s imports and humanitarian aid, and arrange a withdrawal of rival forces from the area agreed to by the government and the Houthis on Dec. 13.

While the agreement in Stockholm was limited, if fully implemented it could offer a potential breakthrough in Yemen’s four-year civil war.

The experts asked the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against Yemen to engage with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s office, Yemen’s government and donors to “enhance” the UN mission inspecting vessels heading to ports in Yemen for illegal arms so it can “identify networks using false documentation to evade inspection.”

They also suggested that Guterres organize a conference with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank as well as other “key actors to best manage cash flows and imports of goods,” using the principles of the UN Global Compact on how companies should conduct business.

And the experts recommended that the secretary-general ask the UN inspection mission and monitors at the port of Hodeidah “to share information on potential cases of acts that threaten the peace, stability and security of Yemen,” including violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, the UN arms embargo, and obstructions of humanitarian assistance.

The experts also asked the sanctions committee to consider sending three letters. One would be to Abu Al-Abbas, a militia commander in the flashpoint city of Taiz, asking him to transfer artifacts and items from the Taiz National Museum in his custody to Yemen’s government. 

A second would be to alert the International Maritime Organization to “the risks posed by anti-ship cruise missiles and water-borne improvised explosive devices in the Red Sea and to encourage it to discuss these threats with the commercial shipping industry with the aim of developing suitable precautions and countermeasures.”

The third would be to alert the International Civil Aviation Organization of the risks posed by drones and munitions to civil aviation, particularly near busy international airports on the Arabian Peninsula “and encourage it to discuss these threats with airport operators and airlines with the aim of developing suitable precautions and countermeasures.”