War-hit Syrian children offered all-out support

Updated 15 May 2014

War-hit Syrian children offered all-out support

Saudi Arabia will hold a day of solidarity on Tuesday Feb. 25 to help raise funds and improve international humanitarian aid for Syrian children living in abject conditions because of the civil war in their country.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has given instructions for the organization of the event. “The solidarity day has been declared by the king in response to the worsening conditions of thousands of Syrian children,” said Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Naif.
He said the day would be used to support local and international efforts to save children inside and outside Syria.
Saudis and expatriates have applauded the royal gesture.
Mohammed Badahdah, assistant secretary-general of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, described the Syrian crisis as an unprecedented human tragedy and urged all Saudis and expatriates to support the drive financially.
Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh on Wednesday urged Saudi businesspeople and philanthropists to donate generously. He said this was the only authorized manner to receive donations for Syrians. The Interior Ministry has banned other parties from collecting donations, fearing the money would end up in the wrong hands.
Prince Mohammed, who is supervisor of the national campaign, said the event would be held at the King Fahd Cultural Center in Riyadh at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
Top personalities including princes, ministers, businesspeople and representatives of international organizations would attend, he said. Dr. Saed Al-Arabi Al-Harthi, adviser to Prince Mohammed and head of the campaign, said the king’s gesture was aimed providing all forms of assistance to the Syrians. “This is a continuation of the Kingdom’s humanitarian and relief efforts for the Syrians. It gives an opportunity for Saudis to express their solidarity with Syrian children.”
He said the campaign committee has already established contacts with banks, major companies, businessmen and businesswomen and charitable organizations to provide moral and material assistance to the Syrians.
Al-Harthi said the campaign would accept donations from the public in cash and kind and people can deposit their donations in the NCB account No. SA 231 00000 201 88888 000100. Donations in kind would be accepted at the campaign’s warehouses in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, Qassim and the Northern Border Province. People can also announce their donations by phone through a joint No. 5565 of telecom companies.
The Saudi campaign has been extending assistance to Syrian refugees in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon where it has opened regional offices to distribute relief supplies. “We have been providing shelters, foodstuff and medical assistance to the refugees,” Al-Harthi said. The relief supplies were distributed among the refugees inside and outside Syria with the support of international organizations.


Turkey, Russia discuss joint patrols option in Syria’s Idlib

Updated 21 min 56 sec ago

Turkey, Russia discuss joint patrols option in Syria’s Idlib

  • Ankara and Moscow have accused each other of flouting a 2018 de-escalation agreement
  • But there had been some rapprochement between Turkey and Russia in their talks on Idlib

ANKARA: Turkey and Russia are discussing possible joint patrols as one way to reach a deal to halt fighting and stem an exodus of civilians in Syria’s Idlib region, a Turkish official said on Thursday, a day after Ankara threatened military action to push back Syrian government forces.
Turkey and Russia, which back opposing sides in the nine-year-old conflict, have failed to reach an agreement after two rounds of talks in the last two weeks.
A Syrian government offensive to eradicate the last rebel strongholds in northwest Syria has led to some of the most serious confrontations yet between NATO member Ankara and Damascus, and prompted Turkey to send thousands of troops and convoys of heavy weapons to the border area.
Turkey has taken in about 3.7 million Syrian refugees since the war started and says it cannot handle any more over its border, which is now closed. The United Nations says more than 900,000 people, mostly women and children, have fled their homes in Idlib since early December.
The Turkish official said the talks with Russia had not been “completely without a result.” The discussions had moved forward but reached no final decision, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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“Russia has maintained its position that Turkey withdraws from Idlib and evacuates its observation posts since the beginning. Withdrawing from Idlib or evacuating the observation posts is not on the agenda.”
“Various exercises are being discussed. For example, ensuring security through Turkish and Russian security officials and holding joint patrols could be possible,” the official said, adding that both Ankara and Moscow expected their presidents to “end the issue.”
Turkey, which backs rebels trying to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad, has threatened to use military power to drive back Syrian forces advancing in Idlib unless they withdraw by the end of the month. On Wednesday, President Tayyip Erdogan said a Turkish offensive into Idlib was a “matter of time.”
Ankara and Moscow have accused each other of flouting a 2018 de-escalation agreement that allowed Turkey and Russia to set up military observation posts in Idlib.
Turkey has said some of its posts in Idlib were surrounded by Syrian government forces, but that it would not evacuate the positions or move them. On Tuesday, presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Turkey had rejected alternative maps offered by Russia during talks.
Earlier on Thursday, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said there had been some rapprochement with Russia in their talks on Idlib but that they were still not at the desired levels.
“There is no such thing as the Russians imposing a map on us, we exchanged documents presenting our respective positions,” Cavusoglu told state broadcaster TRT Haber.
Russia, which backs Assad, has said a Turkish offensive into Idlib would be the “worst-case scenario” and that Russia would work to prevent the situation there from worsening. Iran, which also backs Assad, has said it was ready to mediate between Syria and Turkey if necessary.
The official said Turkey, Russia and Iran planned to meet in Tehran early next month to further discuss Syria, including the developments in Idlib. A Russian delegation may come to Ankara before that to evaluate progress made on Idlib, the person said.