Next round of Syria talks at end October: Kazakhstan

Syria talks will be held at the end of October says Kazakhstan. (Reuters file)
Updated 19 October 2017
0

Next round of Syria talks at end October: Kazakhstan

ASTANA: Fresh talks on the Syria conflict will be held in Astana at the end of the month, Kazakhstan said on Thursday, as part of a Moscow-led push to end the six-year conflict.
The two-day meeting, which will take place on Oct. 30-31 in the Kazakh capital, will be the seventh round of negotiations this year that are co-sponsored by regime backers Russia and Iran and rebel supporter Turkey.
“The guarantor states of the cessation of hostilities have agreed that the seventh round of high-level talks on Syria as part of the Astana process will be held on Oct. 30-31,” the Kazakh Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
At the last set of talks in September, the three powers agreed to allocate forces to patrol the zone covering Idlib province and neighboring regions.
The diplomatic push brings together the Syrian regime and representatives of the opposition, including some key armed groups who had previously steered clear of other negotiations.
Moscow has been spearheading the talks in a bid to pacify Syria after its game-changing intervention on the side of President Bashar Assad.
France criticized Russia on Thursday for calling into question an international inquiry into who is to blame for chemical weapons attacks in Syria.
Russia has questioned the work and future of the joint inquiry by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and said it would decide whether to support extending the mandate after investigators submit their next report.
“We cannot accept that the credibility and independence of these mechanisms are challenged on the grounds that their conclusions are not suitable for Russia,” said French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes Romatet-Espagne.
“This undermines the international consensus that it is our responsibility to build to stop the use of these weapons in Syria.”
The inquiry, known as the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), is due to report by Oct. 26 on who was responsible for an April 4 attack on the opposition-held town of Khan Sheikhoun that killed dozens of people.
France, Britain and the US have accused Assad’s regime of being behind the attack and the probe is expected to back those claims.
The US said on Wednesday it would push the UN Security Council to renew within days the JIM’s mandate, setting the stage for a likely showdown with Russia, which backs Assad and denies Assad has used chemical weapons.
France, under President Emmanuel Macron, has been pushing for closer cooperation with Moscow, especially over Syria, and has said dialogue with Russia on enforcing a 2013 Security Council resolution to prevent the use of chemical weapons in Syria was one of its priorities.
“The JIM (already) concluded in its August and October 2016 reports the responsibility of the Syrian armed and security forces in three cases of chlorine use and IS (Daesh) in one case. The methodology of the investigation is indisputable,” Romatet-Espagne said.


Strikes blamed on Israel killed 9 pro-regime fighters in Syria: monitor

Updated 16 July 2018
0

Strikes blamed on Israel killed 9 pro-regime fighters in Syria: monitor

  • Syrian state media had accused Israel of bombing a military position in Aleppo province late Sunday
  • Israel has repeatedly warned it will not tolerate an entrenched presence of its archfoe Iran in the neighboring country

BEIRUT: At least nine pro-regime fighters died in an overnight strike in northern Syria blamed on Israel, a monitor said Monday.
Syrian state media had accused Israel of bombing a military position in Aleppo province late Sunday, in what would be a rare Israeli attack so far north in the war-ravaged country.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said that those killed included at least six Syrians and that Iranian fighters were also stationed at the base.
State news agency SANA on Sunday reported a missile strike near a strategic air base but said there were no casualties.
“The Zionist enemy... targeted with its missiles one of our military positions north of the Neirab military airport, but the damage was only material,” it said, citing a military source.
There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military, which very rarely confirms strikes on targets in Syria.
Israel has repeatedly warned it will not tolerate an entrenched presence of its archfoe Iran in the neighboring country.
The Observatory, which relies on a network of sources inside the country, said it had recorded a wave of blasts around Neirab on Sunday night.
It said that a suspected Israeli missile strike had targeted “positions held by Syria’s regime and its allies at the Neirab airport” and its surroundings.
Suspected Israeli air strikes have hit Syrian army positions near Damascus and in the central provinces of Homs and Hama in the past but they rarely occur as far north as Aleppo.
Tehran has dispatched military advisers to bolster Syrian President Bashar Assad’s efforts to fight back a seven-year uprising against his rule.