Syrian regime kills 200 civilians; 100 pro-Assad men die in strikes

Children in Eastern Ghouta have been hit hard. (AFP)
Updated 09 February 2018
0

Syrian regime kills 200 civilians; 100 pro-Assad men die in strikes

JEDDAH: Four days of Syrian regime raids on Eastern Ghouta have killed more than 200 civilians, a war monitor said on Thursday, as the Syrian opposition denounced the “atrocities.”
Regime troops have since Monday waged an intense air campaign against Eastern Ghouta, the only significant opposition pocket near the capital Damascus.
Bombardment on Thursday alone killed 58 civilians, including 15 children, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The deadliest strikes hit a market in the town of Erbin, killing 21 civilians, including nine children.
“These are the worst four days that Eastern Ghouta has ever gone through,” said Hamza, a doctor at the local Erbin clinic who was treating wounded patients.
“From 2011 until now, there has never been the level of bombardment we’ve seen in the last 96 hours.”
The opposition condemned the air raids. “As long as Iranian militias and Hezbollah are there, Syria won’t see peace,” opposition spokesman Yahya Al-Aridi told Arab News.
Hezbollah has killed Syrians and worked “brutally” to keep the regime in power, he said.
Also on Thursday, the US-led coalition said it killed at least 100 pro-regime fighters to fend off an attack on its allies in eastern Syria, in one of its deadliest confrontations yet with forces backing Damascus.
The initial attack was carried out by pro-regime forces on key oil and gas installations in parts of Deir Ezzor province controlled by US-backed Kurdish forces.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said the ultimate US goal in Syria was not to fight Daesh but to seize economic assets, the Interfax news agency reported.
Al-Aridi said: “The Russians are working on finding all sorts of excuses to cover up the failure of the political process and their efforts to sideline any political process.”
The Russians are also trying to mask the savagery being inflicted in Eastern Ghouta, he added.
Turkish presidential sources on Thursday said Ankara, Moscow and Tehran will meet in Istanbul to discuss the Syrian crisis. Though the date is not fixed yet, the meeting is expected to take place this month. 
In parallel, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met on Wednesday in Tehran with his Iranian counterpart Mohammed Javad Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani.


Russia ‘trying to help Syrian refugees to return home’

Russian soldiers distribute aid in the central Syrian province of Homs. (File/AFP)
Updated 17 August 2018
0

Russia ‘trying to help Syrian refugees to return home’

  • A buffer zone separates Syria to the east, from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights to the west
  • The Russian military police have set up four observation points along the demarcation line on the Syrian side of the buffer zone

MOSCOW: The Russian Defense Ministry said it was coordinating efforts to help Syrian refugees return home and rebuild the country’s infrastructure destroyed by the civil war.
Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev said in a conference call that included Russian and Syrian officials that work is underway to rebuild dozens of Syria’s power stations, schools and other vital institutions.
In Damascus, Syrian Public Administration Minister Hussein Makhlouf pledged the regime would protect refugee property rights and grant returning refugees a year’s deferral from military conscription.
“The Syrian government is working to simplify procedures for refugees who return, repair housing and try to create new jobs,” Makhlouf said, adding that the authorities were also working to streamline legislation to facilitate refugee returns.
He dismissed as hostile “propaganda” claims that some refugees were facing arrests on their return.
Makhlouf called on Western nations to drop their sanctions against Damascus, introduced early in the seven-year conflict, in order to help post-war restoration and encourage the return of the refugees.
Mizintsev said that over 1.2 million of internally displaced Syrians and about 300,000 refugees have returned in the past two and a half years.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin might take part in a summit with the leaders of Turkey and Iran at the beginning of September.
The three leaders met in April at a summit in Ankara where they discussed developments in Syria.
With help from its Russian ally, President Bashar Assad’s regime has expelled fighters from large parts of Syria’s south since June.
Israel has repeatedly pledged to prevent Iran from establishing a military presence along its border. A series of airstrikes that killed Iranians inside Syria have been attributed to Israel.
A buffer zone separates Syria to the east, from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights to the west.
The Russian army’s Lt.-Gen. Sergei Kuralenko told reporters on an organized press tour this week how “stability” had returned to the buffer zone.
Apart from “a few problems with Daesh” in its southern tip, the demilitarized zone was “entirely under control of Syrian military police,” Kuralenko said.
“Everything is ready” for the return of UN troops, he said, after the peacekeepers were forced to withdraw in 2014.
After retaking most of the two southern provinces adjacent to the buffer zone, regime forces last month raised their flag inside, above the key border crossing of Quneitra.
The Russian military police have set up four observation points along the demarcation line on the Syrian side of the buffer zone, Kuralenko said, and plan to set up four more in the near future.
They are “willing to hand them over to the UN if it says it is ready to ensure the monitoring of the Golan alone,” he said.