Syrian air raids ‘wreak disaster’ on Aleppo

Updated 27 December 2013
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Syrian air raids ‘wreak disaster’ on Aleppo

DAMASCUS: Syrian forces are “wreaking disaster” on Aleppo, killing hundreds in air strikes on the city, Human Rights Watch said Saturday, as peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi held talks with Iran’s foreign minister.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), meanwhile, said the body of Abbas Khan, a British doctor who died in a Syrian jail, was to be transported to Beirut.
“Government forces have really been wreaking disaster on Aleppo in the last month, killing men, women, and children alike,” said Ole Solvang, senior emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW).
“The Syrian air force is either criminally incompetent, doesn’t care whether it kills scores of civilians — or deliberately targets civilian areas,” Solvang added.
The HRW statement comes six days after the launch of a massive aerial campaign against opposition-held areas of Aleppo, once Syria’s commercial capital, involving dozens of warplane strikes and helicopter attacks using TNT-packed barrels.
The New York-based organization cited the Syrian Network for Human Rights as saying 232 civilians were killed from Dec. 15 to 18 in and around the northern city.
HRW concluded that the attacks, which targeted both Aleppo city and its province, showed “government forces had used means and methods of warfare that... could not distinguish between civilians and combatants, making attacks indiscriminate and therefore unlawful.”
It also lashed out against rebels for firing rockets and mortar rounds into civilian areas in government-controlled parts of Aleppo.
The city has been split into rebel and regime-controlled areas since mid-summer 2012 when rebels launched a massive offensive to try to take Syria’s second city.
On Saturday, a day after rebels made a fresh advance in the city, overrunning the Kindi hospital, regime troops pounded the area, which loyalists had for months been using as a base, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Aleppo Media Center, a network of activists on the ground, also said the army had launched a new attack against the opposition-held Qadi Askar neighborhood.
The loyalists, according to the AMC, used highly destructive TNT-packed barrel bombs, whose use has been condemned widely by rights groups.
The violence comes despite preparatory discussions for peace talks due for Jan. 22 in Switzerland, which should bring together opposition and regime representatives.
There has been no agreement yet on whether key Damascus backer Iran will participate in the talks.
On Saturday, peace envoy Brahimi talked by phone with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif about the latest on the Geneva 2 conference,” the ministry said.
Zarif, it said, “insisted on a political solution” that includes talks between the parties to the conflict which has claimed some 126,000 lives since it erupted nearly three years ago.
On Friday, Brahimi had said negotiators failed to reach agreement on whether Iran should be invited to the peace talks, but that Tehran was not yet “off the list” of participants.
“It’s no secret that we in the United Nations welcome the participation of Iran, but our partners in the United States are still not convinced that Iran’s participation would be the right thing,” said Brahimi.
While Iran backs President Bashar Assad’s regime, the United States has insisted he should be excluded from a future transition.
Meanwhile, the ICRC announced the body of Abbas Khan, a British doctor who died in a regime jail, will arrive in Beirut on Saturday.
In the Lebanese capital, his remains will be handed over to the British Embassy.
London and a Syrian rights group has held Damascus responsible for Dr. Khan’s death.
But Syrian authorities said on Wednesday the doctor was found “hanging” in his cell, where he was being held for “unauthorized activities,” and that he had committed suicide.
Khan, a volunteer with London-based charity Human Aid UK, had traveled to Aleppo in northern Syria last year to help civilians when he was arrested by the regime.
The developments come a day after the opposition condemned the arrest by the security forces in the northern city of Qamishli of a prominent Assyrian Christian dissident, Gabriel Mushi Gowriyeh.
“The Syrian National Coalition condemns the detention in the city of Qamishli on Dec. 19 of Gabriel Mushi Gowriyeh, head of the Assyrian Democratic Organization’s political bureau,” the group said.


Israel gives Bedouin villagers until end of month to leave

Updated 23 September 2018
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Israel gives Bedouin villagers until end of month to leave

  • Israel’s supreme court on September 5 rejected appeals against demolition, allowing authorities to move ahead
  • ‘No one will leave. We will have to be expelled by force’

JERUSALEM: Israeli authorities issued a notice to residents of a Bedouin village in a strategic spot in the occupied West Bank on Sunday informing them they have until the end of the month to leave.
The fate of Khan Al-Ahmar has drawn international concern, with European countries calling on Israel not to move ahead with plans to demolish it.
Israel’s supreme court on September 5 rejected appeals against demolition, allowing authorities to move ahead.
Israel says the village was built without the proper permits, though it is extremely difficult for Palestinians to receive such permission in that part of the West Bank.
The notice given to the some 200 residents of Khan Al-Ahmar on Sunday says they have until the end of the month to demolish the village themselves.
“Pursuant to a supreme court ruling, residents of Khan Al-Ahmar received a notice today requiring them to demolish all the structures on the site by October 1st, 2018,” a statement from the Israeli defense ministry unit that oversees civilian affairs in the West Bank said.
It did not say what will happen if they refuse to do so. Village residents vowed not to leave despite the notice.
“No one will leave. We will have to be expelled by force,” said village spokesman Eid Abu Khamis, adding that a residents’ meeting would be held later on the issue.
“If the Israeli army comes to demolish, it will only be by force.”
The village is located in a strategic spot east of Jerusalem, near Israeli settlements and along a road leading to the Dead Sea.
There have been warnings that continued settlement building in the area would eventually divide the West Bank in two, dealing a death blow to any remaining hopes of a two-state solution.
Israeli authorities have offered alternative sites for Khan Al-Ahmar residents, but villagers say the first was near a rubbish dump and the latest close to a sewage treatment plant.