Russia resumes air strikes in Daraa as talks with Syrian opposition fighters collapse

1 / 2
Smoke rises above opposition-held areas of the city of Saida, some 10 kilometers east of Daraa, during airstrikes by Syrian regime forces on July 4, 2018. (AFP / Mohamad Abazeed)
2 / 2
Syrian government forces' soldiers display weapons confiscated from opposition fighters in the town of Ezraa, province of Daraa, on July 4, 2018. (AFP / Youssef Karwashan)
Updated 05 July 2018
0

Russia resumes air strikes in Daraa as talks with Syrian opposition fighters collapse

  • Assad regime forces backed by Russian air power launched an offensive last month to recapture the region from opposition groups led by the Free Syrian Army, and have seized a large chunk of their territory.
  • The peace talks collapsed because the Russians insisted that opposition forces hand over all their heavy weapons immediately and unconditionally, Free Syrian Army spokesman Abu Shaima said.

AMMAN, Jordan: Russia launched its first airstrikes in four days in the southern Syrian region of Daraa on Wednesday after talks aimed at restoring the Assad regime rule collapsed.

The airstrikes targeted Tafas, northwest of the provincial capital Daraa, and Saida to the east. Barrel bombs were also dropped on Saida.

Regime forces backed by Russian air power launched an offensive last month to recapture the region from opposition groups led by the Free Syrian Army, and have seized a large chunk of their territory.

Opposition delegates had been negotiating with Russia since Saturday to end fighting by accepting the return of state sovereignty, but they failed to agree. The talks collapsed because the Russians insisted that opposition forces hand over all their heavy weapons immediately and unconditionally, Free Syrian Army spokesman Abu Shaima said.

Arab News obtained a copy of the 13-point opposition plan rejected by Russian negotiators. In it, the Free Syrian Army offers to surrender its heavy weapons immediately on condition of international or Arab guarantees to any deal, and the simultaneous release of half the prisoners held by the Assad regime.

It also demands the right of all displaced Syrians to return to their homes without any restrictions or punishment. Other issues to be resolved were the status of former Syrian army officers, and the right of Free Syrian Army fighters in Daraa to join the remaining opposition forces in the northwestern province of Idlib.

The opposition also suggested Jordan could guarantee the agreement, but sources in Amman said this was unlikely. 

“Jordan is keen on the stability of south Syria and will do everything it can to make a peaceful resolution work, but it is unlikely that Jordanian troops will be deployed to guarantee any agreement,” Naser Tahboub, chairman of the international development department at the University of Jordan, told Arab News.

Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi held talks in Moscow on Wednesday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and said a humanitarian catastrophe risked unfolding in southern Syria if there were no cease-fire. 

Jordan was working to find a political solution that can “guarantee the security of Syrians and their dignity in their own country,” he said.

Lavrov said Syria would be discussed at the coming summit meeting between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

 


European court urges Turkey to free pro-Kurdish leader

Updated 31 min 30 sec ago
0

European court urges Turkey to free pro-Kurdish leader

  • Demirtas was arrested in November 2016 over his alleged links to Kurdish militants
  • The court said the reasons given for keeping him behind bars were not “sufficient”

STRASBOURG, France: The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday called on Turkey to release pro-Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtas, saying his detention since 2016 on terror charges was aimed at “stifling pluralism.”
Demirtas, one of two former co-leaders of the leftist pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), was arrested in November 2016 over his alleged links to Kurdish militants.
At the time of his arrest he was a member of parliament.
The court in the French city of Strasbourg said it accepted that Demirtas had been arrested on “reasonable suspicion” of committing a crime, but said the reasons given for keeping him behind bars were not “sufficient” and constituted “an unjustified interference with the free expression of the opinion of the people.”
It found that the extension of his detention, particularly during a referendum on expanding President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s powers and later a presidential election, were aimed at “stifling pluralism and limiting freedom of political debate, which was at the very core of the concept of a democratic society.”
“The court therefore held, unanimously, that the respondent state was to take all necessary measures to put an end to the applicant’s pre-trial detention,” it added.
The ECHR hears cases of alleged violations of the European Convention on Human Rights of which Turkey is a signatory.