Turkey urges Russia, Iran to 'stop' Syria govt in Eastern Ghouta

A Syrian man checks the site of Syrian government bombardments in Hamouria, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus on Feb. 22, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 24 February 2018
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Turkey urges Russia, Iran to 'stop' Syria govt in Eastern Ghouta

ISTANBUL: Turkey on Friday called on Russia and Iran to "stop" the Syrian bombardment of the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta after more than 400 civilians were killed there since Sunday.
"Russia and Iran must stop the regime," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.
As part of a peace process aimed at stopping the seven-year war in Syria, Turkey, Iran and Russia sought to create de-escalation zones across the country, including one for Eastern Ghouta and the rebel-held Idlib province.
Cavusoglu said the regime's offensive in the enclave as well as in Idlib was "contrary" to the agreements negotiated by the three countries.
At least 426 people including 98 children have been killed since the Syrian regime and its Russian ally intensified their bombardment of the besieged area on Feb. 18, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor.
More than 2,000 people have also been wounded in the enclave east of Damascus.
"Since the beginning of the conflict, tens of thousands of people have died in Eastern Ghouta alone, and that is enough, these people must not die," Cavusoglu said.
Turkey has been working closely with strong regime supporters Moscow and Tehran despite repeatedly calling for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.
"The killing of women and children... this is a typical method of the regime," Cavusoglu said, as he called for a ceasefire.
Ignoring international calls to stop the bloodshed, the regime again bombed the besieged region on Friday, killing at least nine people, the Observatory said.
After unsuccessful attempts, the UN Security Council is scheduled to vote at 1600 GMT on a draft resolution calling for a 30-day ceasefire in Syria to allow for humanitarian aid and medical evacuations.
Diplomats said it was not known whether Russia would use its veto to block the draft resolution.


Australia recognizes west Jerusalem as capital of Israel

Updated 15 December 2018
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Australia recognizes west Jerusalem as capital of Israel

  • The prime minister is also committed to recognizing a future state of Palestine with east Jerusalem as its capital when the city’s status is determined in a peace deal
  • The embassy will be moved to west Jerusalem, and defense and trade offices will also be established

SYDNEY: Australia now recognizes west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Saturday, but a contentious embassy shift from Tel Aviv will not occur until a peace settlement is achieved.
Morrison is also committed to recognizing a future state of Palestine with east Jerusalem as its capital when the city’s status is determined in a peace deal.
“Australia now recognizes west Jerusalem — being the seat of the Knesset and many of the institutions of government — is the capital of Israel,” Morrison said in a speech in Sydney on Saturday.
“And we look forward to moving our embassy to west Jerusalem when practical, in support of and after final status of determination,” he said, adding that work on a new site for the embassy was under way.
In the interim, Morrison said, Australia would establish a defense and trade office in the west of the holy city.
“Furthermore, recognizing our commitment to a two-state solution, the Australian government is also resolved to acknowledge the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a future state with its capital in east Jerusalem,” he added.
Both Israel and the Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital.
Most foreign nations have avoided moving embassies there to prevent inflaming peace talks on the city’s final status — until US President Trump unilaterally moved the US embassy there earlier this year.
Morrison first floated a shift in foreign policy in October, which angered Australia’s immediate neighbor Indonesia — the world’s most populous Muslim nation.
The issue has put a halt on years-long negotiations on a bilateral trade deal.
Canberra on Friday told its citizens traveling to Indonesia to “exercise a high degree of caution,” warning of protests in the Indonesian capital Jakarta and popular holiday hotspots, including Bali.
Morrison said it was in Australia’s interests to support “liberal democracy” in the Middle East, and took aim at the United Nations he said was a place Israel is “bullied.”