Britain rules out embassy move to Jerusalem

Alistair Burt
Updated 27 February 2018
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Britain rules out embassy move to Jerusalem

RIYADH: Britain will not follow the US in moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a senior UK government minister told Arab News on Monday.
“The United Kingdom is very clear. This was not a decision that we would have made,” said Alistair Burt, the Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa.
“If there is a settlement of the issue, I’m sure at that stage it would be possible to move the embassy. At that stage there will be a state of Palestine, and the UK will be very pleased to have an embassy there. So no, we will not be following the United States in this regard.”
US President Donald Trump announced the embassy move late last year, provoking disapproval throughout the Arab world, protests in the occupied West Bank and an overwhelming vote of condemnation at the UN General Assembly in New York. His administration said this week the new embassy would open on May 14.
Burt was speaking to Arab News at an award ceremony in Riyadh for Saudi alumni of British universities.
The minister said Western countries had missed the opportunity to intervene in Syria “probably some years ago” when the Assad regime first used chemical weapons against civilians.
“No one knows what the impact of that intervention would have been,” he said, “but we do know what has happened subsequently, which has been a tragedy.
“The killing and the attacks in Eastern Ghouta must stop. There is no reason for them, there is no excuse for them. The injuries to innocent civilians shock the whole world, but the wider problem is an issue of international order now.
“If the UN Security Council cannot ensure that there is peace and the conflict comes to an end, then there are many big questions for society.”


Syria flare-up kills 35 fighters, including 26 pro-regime forces

Updated 48 min 53 sec ago
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Syria flare-up kills 35 fighters, including 26 pro-regime forces

  • Russian-backed regime forces try to retake villages seized by opposition forces and allied fighters
  • The clashes also left 26 pro-regime forces dead in the north of Hama province

 

BEIRUT: At least 10 civilians and 35 combatants, mostly pro-regime forces, were killed on Saturday in clashes and airstrikes that erupted at dawn in northwestern Syria, a war monitor said.

The flare-up came as Russian-backed regime forces tried to retake two villages seized by opposition forces and allied fighters earlier this month, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“Since this morning, the Syrian regime and allied fighters have launched five failed attempts to regain control of Jibine and Tal Maleh in northwestern Hama province,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

Syrian regime airstrikes killed nine opposition fighters, the war monitor said.

Ensuing clashes in the north of Hama province left 26 pro-regime forces dead, including eight who were killed in a mine explosion, the Observatory said.

In neighboring Idlib, regime airstrikes killed 10 civilians, including three children, the Observatory said.

The strikes hit the towns of Maaret Al-Numan and Al-Bara as well as the village of Al-Ftira, according to the war monitor.

The Idlib region of some 3 million people is supposed to be protected from a massive regime offensive by a buffer zone deal that Russia and Turkey signed in September.

But it was never fully implemented, as opposition refused to withdraw from a planned demilitarized zone.

In January, the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham alliance led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate extended its administrative control over the region, which includes most of Idlib province as well as adjacent slivers of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces.

The Syrian regime and Russia have upped their bombardment of the region since late April, killing nearly 400 civilians, according to the Observatory.

Turkey said on Friday that it did not accept Russia’s “excuse” that it had no ability to stop the Syrian regime’s continued bombardments in the last opposition bastion of Idlib.

“In Syria, who are the regime’s guarantors? Russia and Iran,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told state news agency Anadolu in a televised interview.

“Thus we do not accept the excuse that ‘We cannot make the regime listen to us’,” he said.

His comments came as Turkey disagreed with Russia earlier this week after Moscow claimed a new cease-fire had been secured in the province following weeks of regime bombardments — a claim that was denied by Ankara.

Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with the repression of anti-regime protests.

Russia launched a military intervention in support of the regime in 2015, helping its forces reclaim large parts of the country from opposition fighters and militants.