Syria says Idlib situation untenable if militants won’t comply with deal

Syrian FM Walid Al-Moualem said it was up to Russia now to judge whether the deal to prevent a Syrian government offensive on Syria’s rebel-held Idlib had been fulfilled. (AFP)
Updated 15 October 2018
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Syria says Idlib situation untenable if militants won’t comply with deal

  • The deal sets up a demilitarized zone that must be evacuated of all heavy weapons and all militant groups
  • The Syrian government’s next target is the area east of the Euphrates

BEIRUT: Syria’s foreign minister said on Monday the situation in Idlib was untenable if militants do not comply with a Russian-Turkish agreement for the area, on the day of a critical deal deadline.
Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moualem said it was up to Russia now to judge whether the deal to prevent a Syrian government offensive on Syria’s rebel-held Idlib had been fulfilled.
“We cannot keep quiet about the continuation of the current situation in Idlib if the Nusra Front refuses to comply with this agreement,” Al-Moualem said at a press conference with his Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim Al-Jaafari in Damascus.
The deal sets up a demilitarized zone running 15-20 km (9-13 miles) deep into rebel territory that must be evacuated of all heavy weapons and all militant groups by Monday.
“Now we must give the time to our friends the Russians to judge whether the agreement was fulfilled or not,” he said, adding that Turkey has the means to ensure the deal is complied with.
“For us we said always Idlib, as any other province, has to return back to Syrian sovereignty. We prefer to have it through peaceful means, through reconciliation, but if not there (are) other options,” Moualem said.

Moualem also said that after recovering Idlib, the government’s next target is the area east of the Euphrates.


Lebanon to form body to probe civil war disappearances

Updated 20 min 10 sec ago
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Lebanon to form body to probe civil war disappearances

  • The long-awaited law would empower an independent national commission to gather information about the missing
  • Families and rights groups have been campaigning for the law since 2012, when it first went to parliament

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s parliament on Monday approved the formation of an independent commission to help determine the fate of thousands of people who went missing during the country’s civil war, which ended nearly three decades ago.
The long-awaited law would empower an independent national commission to gather information about the missing, collect DNA samples and exhume mass graves from the 1975-1990 conflict.
Families and rights groups have been campaigning for the law since 2012, when it first went to parliament.
“This is the first step toward giving closure to families of the missing hopefully,” said Rona Halabi, spokeswoman for the International Committee for the Red Cross. “This represents a milestone for the families who have waited for years to have answers.”
The Hague-based International Commission on Missing Persons says more than 17,000 people are estimated to have gone missing during the Lebanese civil war.
Lebanon’s National News Agency said lawmakers approved the law after voting on each of its 38 articles.
LBC TV said lawmakers initially protested, saying calls for accountability may affect current officials. The broadcaster said they were reassured the 1991 amnesty for abuses committed by militias during the war remains in place.
Many of Lebanon’s political parties are led by former warlords implicated in some of the civil war’s worst fighting.
“For the first time after the war, Lebanon enters a genuine reconciliation phase, to heal the wounds and give families the right to know,” Gebran Bassil, the country’s foreign minister tweeted.
The ICRC began compiling DNA samples from relatives of the disappeared in 2016 and has interviewed more than 2,000 families to help a future national commission.
DNA samples have been stored with the Lebanese Internal Security Forces and the ICRC. The law would allow Lebanese security forces to take part in the sample collection.