Douma safe for press visits, not safe for UN chemical inspectors

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Photo showing people in the streets of Douma during a press visit organized by Assad regime, April 20, 2018. (AFP)
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Photo showing people in the streets of Douma during a press visit organized by Assad regime, April 20, 2018. (AFP)
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Photo showing devastated streets of Douma during a press visit organised by Assad regime, April 20, 2018. (AFP)
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Photo showing a portrait of Syrian president in a devastated street in Douma during a government organised visit to eastern Ghouta, Damascus, 20 April,2018. (AFP)
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Photo showing a regime soldier and a Russian soldier in Douma during a press visit organised by Assad regime, April 20, 2018. (AFP)
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Photo showing a Syrian Flag flying amidst destroyed buildings in Douma, during a press visit organised by Assad regime April 20, 2018. (AFP)
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Photo showing a girl carrying her toddler brother in the devastated town of Douma, during a press visit organised by Assad regime, April 20, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 20 April 2018
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Douma safe for press visits, not safe for UN chemical inspectors

  • Regime troops accompany journalists on a tour of Douma
  • Chemical weapons inspectors failed to visit scene of chemical attack on April 7

LONDON: Journalists working in Syria’s capital Damascus were treated to an organized visit to the opposition enclave of Douma.
Members of the press toured and photographed deserted areas of Douma which has been held by opposition groups for the last seven years. The government invited international news agencies to tour the devastated neighborhood of Damascus that witnessed the birth of the revolution against Assad’s rule in 2011.
Chemical weapons inspectors meanwhile are still awaiting the green light to access areas where chemical attacks were carried out on the 7th April, and which led to the evacuation of fighters and their families to the north of the country as part of a deal to evacuate the enclave.


Macron and Merkel warn of ‘humanitarian risks’ in Idlib

Russian military support has helped Syrian regime troops to regain control of key cities such as Aleppo. (File/AFP)
Updated 19 August 2018
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Macron and Merkel warn of ‘humanitarian risks’ in Idlib

  • US-backed forces had repelled a raid by Daesh targeting barracks housing American and French troops in eastern Syria
  • Daesh overran large swaths of Syria and Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” in territory it controlled

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced concern Friday about the humanitarian situation in the opposition-held Syrian region of Idlib, which is shaping up be the country’s next big battleground.
In a telephone call the two leaders described the “humanitarian risks” in Idlib, where regime forces have stepped up their bombardments of opposition positions in recent days, as “very high,” according to the French presidency.
They also called for an “inclusive political process to allow lasting peace in the region.”
President Bashar Assad has set his sights on retaking control of the northwestern province of Idlib — the biggest area still in opposition hands after seven years of war.
Last week, regime helicopters dropped leaflets over towns in Idlib’s east, urging people to surrender.
Idlib, which sits between Syria’s Mediterranean coast and the second city Aleppo, has been a landing point for thousands of civilians and rebel fighters and their families as part of deals struck with the regime following successive regime victories.
The UN has called for talks to avert “a civilian bloodbath” in the northern province, which borders Turkey.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said US-backed forces had repelled a raid by Daesh targeting barracks housing American and French troops in eastern Syria.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the US-led coalition supporting them were on high alert after the raid late on Friday at the Omar oil field in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, the Britain-based war monitor said.
“The attack targeted the oil field’s housing, where US-led coalition forces and leaders of the Syrian Democratic Forces are present,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.
Seven terrorists were killed in the attack, which ended at dawn after clashes near the barracks, he added.
Contacted by AFP, neither the US-led coalition nor the Kurdish-led SDF were immediately available for comment.
In October last year, the SDF took control of the Omar oil field, one of the largest in Syria, which according to The Syria Report economic weekly had a pre-war output of 30,000 barrels per day. “It’s the largest attack of its kind since the oil field was turned into a coalition base” following its capture by the SDF, Abdel Rahman said.
Daesh overran large swaths of Syria and Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” in territory it controlled.
But the terrorist group has since lost nearly all of it to multiple offensives in both countries.
In Syria, two separate campaigns — by the US-backed SDF and by the Russia-supported regime — have reduced Daesh’s presence to pockets in Deir Ezzor and in the vast desert that lies between it and the capital.