Syria at peace talks says cease-fire depends on Turkey

Jaafari called on the guarantors of the peace talks to take responsibility and put pressure on Turkey. (File/AFP)
Updated 02 August 2019

Syria at peace talks says cease-fire depends on Turkey

  • Syrian official said the cease-fire is “a test of Turkey’s intentions”
  • Syrian government agreed to a truce in Idlib on condition a Turkish-Russian buffer-zone deal is implemented

NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan: Syria’s representative at peace talks in Kazakhstan on Friday said the success of a cease-fire in the northwestern region of Idlib would depend on Turkey disarming rebels of heavy weapons and implementing a buffer zone.
Syrian negotiator Bashar Jaafari attacked the Turkish military presence in the northwest of the country and called Syria’s cease-fire statement on Thursday “a test of Turkey’s intentions.”
The comments came during the second day of talks brokered by Syria’s allies Russia and Iran, along with rebel-backer Turkey.
Jaafari also called on the guarantors of the talks to assume “their responsibilities by putting pressure on Turkey” to fulfil the conditions of an accord struck last year.
“The cease-fire agreement is conditioned on Turkey upholding the Astana and Sochi agreements by disarming terrorists of heavy and medium weapons,” Jaafari said.
Jaafari accused the militant groups of shelling areas under regime control in northwest Syria “from areas Turkey controls in Idlib.”
“Even though we are patient, this time our patience will be limited. We will not be waiting endlessly for Turkey to fulfil its commitments,” he said.
Syria’s state news agency SANA reported Thursday that the government had agreed to a truce in Idlib on condition a Turkish-Russian buffer-zone deal is implemented.
It cited a military source who announced the regime’s “approval for a cease-fire in the de-escalation zone in Idlib starting from tonight” on the condition that jihadists and rebels withdraw forces and weaponry from a buffer zone as per a September accord.
Moscow welcomed the statement.
Idlib is the last major jihadist-run bastion in Syria after eight years of brutal conflict.
Idlib and parts of the neighboring provinces of Aleppo, Hama and Latakia are under the control of Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, a jihadist group led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate.
The region is supposed to be protected from a massive government offensive by a September buffer zone deal, but it has come under increasing bombardment by the regime and its Russian ally over the past three months.
A joint statement on the talks in Kazakhstan’s capital Nur-Sultan released by Russia, Iran and Turkey showed little progress toward ending Syria’s conflict.
The war in Syria has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with a crackdown on anti-government protests.


Amnesty slams Qatar tracing app for exposing data of a million users

Updated 22 min 12 sec ago

Amnesty slams Qatar tracing app for exposing data of a million users

  • Glitch made users’ ID numbers, location, infection status vulnerable to hackers
  • More than 47,000 of Qatar’s 2.75 million people have tested positive for

DOHA: A security flaw in Qatar’s controversial mandatory coronavirus contact tracing app exposed sensitive information of more than one million users, rights group Amnesty International warned Tuesday.
The glitch, which was fixed on Friday after being flagged by Amnesty a day earlier, made users’ ID numbers, location and infection status vulnerable to hackers.
Privacy concerns over the app, which became mandatory for residents and citizens on pain of prison from Friday, had already prompted a rare backlash and forced officials to offer reassurance and concessions.
Users and experts had criticized the array of permissions required to install the app including access to files on Android devices, as well as allowing the software to make unprompted phone calls.
Despite insisting the unprecedented access was necessary for the system to work, officials said they would address privacy concerns and issued reworked software over the weekend.
“Amnesty International’s Security Lab was able to access sensitive information, including people’s name, health status and the GPS coordinates of a user’s designated confinement location, as the central server did not have security measures in place to protect this data,” the rights group said in a statement.
“While Amnesty International recognizes the efforts and actions taken by the government of Qatar to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures introduced to date, such as access to free health care, all measures must be in line with human rights standards.”
More than 47,000 of Qatar’s 2.75 million people have tested positive for the respiratory disease — 1.7 percent of the population — and 28 people have died.
Like other countries, Qatar has turned to mobiles to trace people’s movements and track who they come into contact with, allowing officials to monitor coronavirus infections and flag possible contagion.
“The Ehteraz app’s user privacy and platform security are of the utmost importance,” Qatar’s health ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
“A comprehensive update of the app was rolled out on Sunday May 24 with expanded security and privacy features for all users.”
But Etheraz, which means “Precaution,” continues to allow real-time location tracking of users by authorities at any time, Amnesty said.
“It was a huge security weakness and a fundamental flaw in Qatar’s contact tracing app that malicious attackers could have easily exploited,” said Claudio Guarnieri, head of the group’s security lab.
“The Qatari authorities must reverse the decision to make use of the app mandatory,” he said.