US should use its influence to help win the freedom of a scholar missing in Iraq, her sister says

US should use its influence to help win the freedom of a scholar missing in Iraq, her sister says
In this Sept., 2018 selfie image provided by Emma Tsurkov, right, she and Elizabeth Tsurkov are shown in Santa Clara Valley, Calif. Emma Tsurkov, the sister of Elizabeth Tsurkov, a Russian-Israeli academic at Princeton University who went missing in Iraq nearly six months ago. (AP)
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Updated 14 September 2023

US should use its influence to help win the freedom of a scholar missing in Iraq, her sister says

US should use its influence to help win the freedom of a scholar missing in Iraq, her sister says
  • Elizabeth Tsurkov, a 36-year-old doctoral student whose work focuses on the Middle East and specifically Syria, disappeared in Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, in March while doing research

WASHINGTON: The United States should use its influence to help win the freedom of a Russian-Israeli academic at Princeton University who went missing in Iraq nearly six months ago and is believed to be held by an Iran-backed militia regarded by Washington as a terrorist group, her sister said Wednesday.
“The current level of pressure is unsatisfactory. It’s just not enough,” Emma Tsurkov said in an interview with The Associated Press. “My sister is languishing at the hands of this terror organization. And it’s been almost six months.”
Elizabeth Tsurkov, a 36-year-old doctoral student whose work focuses on the Middle East and specifically Syria, disappeared in Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, in March while doing research.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office has said she is being held by the Shiite group Kataeb Hezbollah or Hezbollah Brigades, whose leader and founder died in the American airstrike in January 2020 that also killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force and the architect of Tehran’s regional military alliances. The Hezbollah group has close ties to the Iraqi government.
Emma Tsurkov is working to draw attention to her sister’s fate, meeting in Washington this week with the State Department and Israeli and Russian government officials. She had hoped to have a separate meeting at the Iraqi Embassy but said officials there “blew me off.” The embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“I really never wanted to do any of this. But I realized that everyone is interested but no one is going to do anything to actually bring her home,” said Emma Tsurkov, 35, a sociology research at Stanford University. “And everyone is just hoping that someone else does, passing the buck. But at the end of the day, I don’t see anything being done to bring my sister back.”
Elizabeth Tsurkov is not a US citizen, limiting the tools at the American government’s disposal and the direct ability of Washington officials to secure her release. But Emma Tsurkov contends that the US government still has substantial influence given that her sister has significant US ties as a “graduate student in an American institution that is approved and funded for research.”
She said she made the case to a State Department official during a meeting on Tuesday that the US government’s massive financial support to Iraq gives it leverage it should use. Washington gives significant military aid to Iraq as part of a shared interest in ensuring the country’s security, confronting the Daesh group and preventing Iran from gaining more influence in the country.
Central to the anti-IS efforts are the Popular Mobilization Forces, an umbrella group for a number of Iran-backed militias, including Kataeb Hezbollah, the group believed to have kidnapped Tsurkov.
A State Department spokesman had no immediate response to the Tsurkov case when asked about it at a briefing Wednesday.
Emma Tsurkov is also set to meet this week with officials at Princeton, which she says has not been vocal enough in its support of her sister.
In a statement, Princeton spokesman Michael Hotchkiss said the university was “deeply concerned” about Elizabeth Tsurkov’s well-being and called her a “valued member of the University community.” He said that after learning of her disappearance, the school immediately communicated with US and Israeli government officials.
“Elizabeth’s family subsequently asked that the University not involve government officials in the interest of keeping the matter private,” he said. “Once the situation became public, the University has and continues to communicate with relevant government officials and experts to understand how we can best support Elizabeth’s safe return to her family and her studies at Princeton.”
The sisters, daughters of dissidents, were born a year apart in the former Soviet Union and moved with their family as young girls to Israel. They are so closely connected that they texted daily while Elizabeth Tsurkov was in Baghdad.
Emma Tsurkov said she knew something was amiss because her sister would always quickly respond to text message photographs of her son, Elizabeth Tsurkov’s only nephew.
“She didn’t respond. And I get worried after a few hours, but then when it reached 12 hours,” she said.
Elizabeth Tsurkov’s last post on Twitter, now known as X, was on March 21, when she recirculated a photograph of pro-Kurdistan protesters in Syria. Emma Tsurkov said it was her understanding that her sister went to a coffee shop in Baghdad’s central neighborhood of Karradah and did not return. Days earlier, Elizabeth Tsurkov had had spinal cord surgery in Iraq.
Now, she said, the sisters are facing the prospect of being apart during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year and a holiday the family always commemorated together.
“This is,” she said, “the type of nightmare I wish on no one.”

Egypt’s foreign minister expresses confidence in the UAE leadership in promoting climate action agenda

Egypt’s foreign minister expresses confidence in the UAE leadership in promoting climate action agenda
Updated 7 sec ago

Egypt’s foreign minister expresses confidence in the UAE leadership in promoting climate action agenda

Egypt’s foreign minister expresses confidence in the UAE leadership in promoting climate action agenda

CAIRO: Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has expressed confidence in the leadership of Dr. Sultan Al-Jaber, president of the UN Climate Change Conference, in promoting the climate action agenda and achieving common goals.

He added that last year’s COP27 Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh opened the way for a new era of implementation in the fight against climate change.

Shoukry made his comments at COP28’s opening session in Dubai on Thursday.

He delivered his speech as COP27 president as he handed over Egypt’s conference presidency to the UAE.

Shoukry expressed his gratitude to the state parties, observers, and civil society for their support during his term as the president of COP27.

He acknowledged their assistance during the preparatory stages, the Sharm El-Sheikh conference, and in the following year.

Despite the challenging international context due to COVID-19 and the conflict in Ukraine, Shoukry said that COP27 had succeeded in building on previous conferences and achieving progress on the global climate agenda.

He said that the summit had paved the way for a new era in the fight against climate change, and spoke of the establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund.

Shoukry emphasized the importance of honest assessment of the current situation, given worrying indicators.

He added that developed countries’ climate financing decreased while the developing countries’ financing needed to increase due to high financing costs.

It was noted there had been an increase in the exploration and production of fossil fuels, particularly coal, in countries that had previously pledged to reduce or eliminate use of coal.

The minister warned that these indicators could have significant negative consequences on achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.

How Israel-Hamas war in Gaza compounds global crisis of proliferating conflicts

How Israel-Hamas war in Gaza compounds global crisis of proliferating conflicts
Updated 5 min 54 sec ago

How Israel-Hamas war in Gaza compounds global crisis of proliferating conflicts

How Israel-Hamas war in Gaza compounds global crisis of proliferating conflicts
  • Several worrying trends noted by a report that uses dozens of metrics to determine how peaceful a country is
  • Current year has witnessed a surge in violence and wars in Europe, Africa and Asia, according to the report

ATHENS: “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” Spanish-American philosopher’s George Santayana’s poignant quote is still relevant nearly a century after he wrote it as the list of full-blown and low-intensity conflicts worldwide grows longer every year.

The unprecedented violence seen in the continuing war between Israel and Hamas has claimed the lives of nearly 15,000 civilians, destroyed nearly the entirety of Gaza’s north, and displaced 1.7 million Palestinians inside Gaza as well as half a million Israelis, mainly along the border with Lebanon.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child solemnly marked World Children’s Day on Nov. 20, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and reiterating that “thousands of children are dying in armed conflict in many parts of the world, including in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Myanmar, Haiti, Sudan, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia.”

With new wars beginning, other wars entering their 10th year or longer, and still others intensifying, the horrifying bloodshed in Gaza may be indicative of what some analysts and observers warn is a period of increasing violence worldwide.

The 2023 Global Peace Index report, compiled by the think tank Institute for Economics and Peace, stated that “over the last 15 years the world has become less peaceful,” recording “deteriorations in peace” in 95 of the 163 countries covered.

The report, which uses dozens of metrics to determine how peaceful a country is, identified several worrying trends. The GPI recorded an uptick in violence in conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in Mali, Ethiopia, Myanmar and Ukraine, with conflicts characterized by the increasing use of drone attacks and delivery of weapons to armed groups by large- and mid-size powers.

Sudan, the Sahel and beyond

The conflict in Sudan has been the bloodiest African conflict on record this year, with fighting beginning in April when clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces culminated in an all-out war. The UN estimates that about 4.3 million people were internally displaced and more than 1.1 million have fled the country into neighboring Chad, Central African Republic, Egypt, Ethiopia and South Sudan since the fighting began.

In October, Martin Griffiths, UN undersecretary-general, said that the violence had claimed 9,000 lives, with reports of sexual violence on the rise.

Fighting in Sudan may be the spark for the regional powder keg of instability, with Robert Wood, the US alternate representative for special political affairs, telling the UN Security Council in May that military forces and police from both Sudan and South Sudan have been deployed in the border region of Abyei, which is claimed by both sides.

Last week, gunmen attacked villages in the disputed region, killing at least 32 people. While regional officials told the Associated Press news agency that the clashes eventually ceased, simmering ethnic tensions in regional countries may also rear their heads.

In February of this year, yet another African conflict led to deaths and waves of refugees when the Somaliland National Army and forces of the autonomous Khatumo State clashed in the Las Anod region. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported the killing of hundreds and the displacement of between 154,000 and 203,000 people, about 100,000 of whom fled into neighboring Ethiopia.

Ethiopia itself is already plagued by a litany of conflicts and unrest, including intense violence between the country’s many ethnic groups, which has led to an uncountable number of deaths and the internal displacement of about 4.38 million people, according to the International Organization for Migration.


Russia’s invasion of Ukraine spilled over into 2023, with the UN reporting that more than 6.5 million Ukrainians have been displaced by the conflict, which began in February 2022. In mid-November, the UN also stated that at least 10,000 civilians had been killed in the conflict, and a month earlier published a statement adding that civilians in areas lost by Ukraine “face torture, ill-treatment, sexual violence, and arbitrary detention.”

The year saw Ukrainian forces begin a counteroffensive against Russian troops, primarily in the Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions. At the same time Israeli bombs pummeled Gaza, dozens of media reports from both Russian and Ukrainian outlets documented the use of cluster munitions as well as the killing of several civilians, including children, with missile strikes.

South Caucasus

The conflict over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which has waxed and waned since the late-1980s, intensified to an unprecedented level in late September. Azerbaijan claims Nagorno-Karabakh, an area located inside its territorial boundaries. The region was governed and inhabited mostly by ethnic Armenians who created a breakaway state known as the Republic of Artsakh in 1991.

An offensive against Nagorno-Karabakh was launched on Sept. 19, and after only one day, the self-proclaimed republic dissolved itself. The decision led to a mass exodus from the region, with UN observers reporting in October that about 100,000 ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh had been displaced.

This followed UN reports from August that a blockade of the Lachin corridor, the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia proper, had led to acute shortages in food, medicine and other critical items, sparking a humanitarian crisis in the region.


In Syria, while conflict in the country has been raging for more than a decade, the past four years have seen repeated attacks against the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration, the anti-Daesh Global Coalition-backed entity that governs the country’s north and east.

Just two days before the current war between Israel and Hamas erupted in Gaza, more than 43 aerial strikes targeted the north, according to the local war monitor Rojava Information Center.

This latest attack on civilian infrastructure is just the most recent tragedy in a series of invasions of the Syrian north, in Afrin in 2018 and Ras Al-Ain in 2019, with a Syrian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party cited as the target of the onslaught.

The former operation displaced between 200,000 and 300,000 people — many of whom had already fled to the relative safety of Afrin at the start of the Syrian crisis — while the 2019 invasion displaced 160,000 more.

The latest strikes, which claimed a total of 48 lives, targeted water, gas, oil and electricity facilities across the country’s north, leaving millions in the region without power, fuel or water for over a week, compounding crises caused by the region’s already-weakened infrastructure and a practical embargo from all sides.

The US has had some 900 troops stationed in the northeast alongside an unknown number of security contractors ever since the defeat of Daesh in 2019.


In Myanmar, a lesser-known conflict has been raging since 2021, when the country’s military carried out a coup d’etat and established a military junta. Last year, Tom Andrews, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, said that the military crackdown on protests had killed 2,000 and displaced more than 700,000.

The UN reported in November of this year that fighting between armed groups and Myanmar’s armed forces had spread into the country’s east and west, with urban fighting and aerial strikes growing in frequency and intensity.

Intensified conflict has led to a new wave of displacement, with more than 200,000 forced to flee their homes between Oct. 27 and Nov. 17. The UN’s Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar addressed the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in September, citing incidences of indiscriminate shelling and airstrikes, executions of prisoners of war and civilians alike, and the burning of civilian villages.

Gaza’s future

In Gaza, a ceasefire came into effect on Nov. 24, marking the entry of the first aid convoys into the war-ravaged enclave from Egypt. Israel began releasing Palestinian prisoners while Hamas started to release hostages, which included Israelis as well as foreign workers.

Though media outlets have reported that both sides are willing to extend the truce, there is concern that the humanitarian pause may indeed be just a pause.

On Wednesday, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, declared that Israel’s war against Hamas would resume once the release of Israeli hostages was secured, leaving the looming threat of more destruction hanging over the heads of millions in Gaza.

EU unveils strategy for strengthening long-term relations with Turkiye

EU unveils strategy for strengthening long-term relations with Turkiye
Updated 22 min 28 sec ago

EU unveils strategy for strengthening long-term relations with Turkiye

EU unveils strategy for strengthening long-term relations with Turkiye
  • Modernizing existing customs union agreement with Ankara catalyst for progress across all other domains: analyst

ANKARA: The EU on Wednesday set out the state of play of its political, economic, and trade relations with Turkiye in a strategic move aimed at ironing out long-standing disagreements between the neighbors.

Against the backdrop of shifting geopolitical dynamics, the EU report was published on the same day that NATO foreign ministers met in Brussels and discussed the progress of Sweden’s accession to the intergovernmental military alliance.

It is expected that Ankara will ratify its protocol on the issue “within weeks.”

The EU initiative aims to invigorate crucial areas of collaboration and develop trust in light of ongoing security and geopolitical challenges.

In the context of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, Turkiye’s role in the Black Sea as a NATO ally was strongly emphasized by High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission Josep Borrell in his opening remarks introducing the joint communication on Turkiye.

He also noted the need to ensure a stable and secure environment in the Eastern Mediterranean as a strategic goal of the EU.

In a statement, the EU delegation to Turkiye said: “(The EU) retains a strategic interest in a stable and secure environment in the Eastern Mediterranean and the development of a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship with Turkiye.”

The EU document’s foreign policy section indicates the trajectory that bilateral ties may take. Notably, the EU has resolved to regularly engage in “structured dialogues” with Ankara on foreign policy and regional matters.

As part of the recalibration, Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Hakan Fidan was set to receive invitations to the informal six-monthly gatherings of EU foreign ministers — known as the Gymnich meetings — when pertinent discussions arise.

Despite missing out on the most recent Gymnich meeting in August, Turkiye could rekindle high-level dialogues on shared interests such as energy, de-escalation in the East Mediterranean, refugee management, and counterterrorism amid a volatile security climate.

Turkiye will also be encouraged to further contribute to the EU’s missions and operations regarding its common security and defense policy and to adopt a more constructive approach to the EU-NATO strategic partnership, in an apparent reference to the Swedish accession bid.

Dr. Bahadir Kaleagasi, president of the Paris Bosphorus Institute, told Arab News that there was enough historical evidence to argue that the more Turkiye was excluded from the EU’s sphere of influence, the more it became part of the problems, which in turn nourished populist demagogy and threats to Western democracy.

He said: “The report is presented as a set of proposals that will not constitute an alternative to the membership process or a search for a new institutional framework. On the contrary, it aims to be practical, realistic, and constructive.

“However, other proposals covering an updated customs union together with green and digital transition policies, provided that they are initiated without blocking pre-conditions, would certainly positively impact both foreign policy alignment and the rule of law reforms,” he added.

On migration management and the EU’s financial support for refugees, a key aspect of EU-Turkiye relations, especially since 2016, the document urged Turkiye to intensify efforts to curb irregular migration by dismantling criminal smuggling networks and bolstering border defenses. Simultaneously, Brussels pledged to sustain financial aid for refugees in Turkiye.

Kaleagasi noted that the current migration governance framework was unsustainable, and that efficient management hinged on rejuvenating the economic dimension of the relationship, aligning with shared global competitiveness objectives.

“Modernizing the existing EU-Turkiye customs union agreement stands as a catalyst for progress across all other domains,” he said.

Turkiye is the EU’s seventh-biggest trading partner, while the EU is the first for Turkiye. Bilateral trade this year surpassed 200 billion euros ($218.5 billion), a record.

Brussels has also agreed to resume negotiations on a modernized EU-Turkiye customs union, provided Ankara supported efforts to fight against the evasion of European sanctions against Russia.

Turkiye-EU relations have been troubled by several difficulties since accession negotiations opened in October 2005. Both sides have mostly disagreed on foreign policy decisions with only around 10 percent of policies being aligned in 2023.

Samuel Doveri Vesterbye, director of European Neighborhood Council, told Arab News: “Between 2016 and 2022, the EU and Turkiye relations faced their worst period in recent history. That is changing now because of structural reasons like the war in Ukraine and the EU and Turkiye’s increasingly aligned policies in Central Asia and terms of connectivity and supply chains.”

He predicted further improvements soon, including customs union reform, provided Turkiye did not cross any “red lines” in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Vesterbye said: “The most important elements of the joint communication are allowing Turkiye back into Gymnich discussions and opening the highest level of dialogue with fellow NATO and European partner Turkiye, including Hakan Fidan and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“Now it’s up to especially the French and Turkish representatives to carefully think and coordinate about a common European security architecture, which will need to include a larger framework for EU-Turkiye under differentiated accession.

“France is by far the most important EU member for advanced military technology, potential sales of fighter jets or ground-to-surface missiles, nuclear power, military capabilities abroad, etc.

“The same goes for France: despite Turkiye’s worrying levels of religiously radical policy support abroad, it nevertheless has a great ground power, Muslim credibility, and significant on-the-ground experience, size, and unique geo-strategic location.

“It’s like two alpha males; they usually compete with each other, but if they manage to unite, they are far stronger together,” Vesterbye added.

But he pointed out that the process of aligning the foreign and security policies of Turkiye and the EU would require a lot of effort, time, and constant high-level and technical coordination, as well as taking risks and building trustworthy institutional security structures to keep each side in check.

In this respect, the EU’s foreign and security policy missions abroad will play a key role in establishing institutional ties between Brussels and Ankara.

Vesterbye said: “The EU and Turkiye already had many common EU military missions, so building on those will prove important, and the next steps should be further Turkiye involvement in decision-making, funding, and contribution while tackling the Cyprus issue, which would progressively lead to the full inclusion of Turkiye into the EU security apparatus.

“If Turkiye wants to progress into the next level of technology, economic growth, and large-scale policy in Central Asia, it, together with its natural geographic ally Europe, will need to walk, and vice versa, if the EU wants to become a truly geopolitical force it can only do so with the inclusion of Turkiye,” he added.

EU leaders still have to adopt the plan during their summit in Brussels on Dec. 13.

US expresses concern about further spread of Gaza conflict to Lebanon

US expresses concern about further spread of Gaza conflict to Lebanon
Updated 33 min 27 sec ago

US expresses concern about further spread of Gaza conflict to Lebanon

US expresses concern about further spread of Gaza conflict to Lebanon
  • Embassy officials warn of ‘grave implications for regional peace and security and the well-being of the Lebanese people’
  • French envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian holds talks with Lebanese officials in attempt to break political deadlock in the country

BEIRUT: The US Embassy in Lebanon said on Thursday that the administration in Washington is concerned about “the possibility of a further spillover” of the conflict in Gaza.

A message posted by the embassy’s official account on social media platform X said the US “does not want to see conflict in Lebanon, where escalation would have grave implications for regional peace and security and for the well-being of the Lebanese people.”

It also stressed that “restoring calm along the Israel-Lebanon border is of utmost importance, and fully implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1701 is a key component of this effort.” Resolution 1701 was adopted 17 years ago with the aim of resolving the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah

The embassy added that the UN Interim Force in Lebanon plays a vital role in keeping the peace along the Blue Line, the demarcation line between Lebanon and Israel established by the UN in June 2000, and “we expect all parties will ensure the safety of peacekeepers.”

The message came after the Israeli army approved military plans for the next phases of its ground operations in the Gaza Strip. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that Israeli air, ground and naval forces are prepared to resume operations as soon as the current truce ends.

On the second day of his visit to Lebanon, meanwhile, French envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian visited the southern suburbs of Beirut where he held talks on various issues with Lebanese politicians in an attempt to help break the long-running political deadlock in the country.

Those he met included Hezbollah MP Mohammed Raad; Gebran Bassil, head of the Free Patriotic Movement; Sami Gemayel, head of the Lebanese Kataeb Party, MPs from the Change coalition; and independent MPs.

The president’s office has been vacant for more than a year since Michel Aoun’s term ended in October 2022, and Gemayel blamed Hezbollah for obstructing the election of a successor. He urged Hezbollah and its allies to reach a consensus on candidates who can be trusted and supported by all parties, rather than trying to impose their own choices.

In addition, he called for the retirement of army chief Gen. Joseph Aoun to be postponed during this critical period for the country. The general will reach the retirement age of 60 on Jan. 10.

Gemayel also said he rejects any settlement in the region that would come at the expense of Lebanon, and emphasized the need to “implement Resolution 1701 and international resolutions, and limit weapons to the Lebanese Army” because “today, there is no state in Lebanon; Hezbollah is the state.”

The main topics Le Drian discussed with politicians reportedly included the urgent need to elect a president and form a government, the full implementation of Resolution 1701, and ensuring stability is maintained in the south of the country.

Lebanese Forces MP Georges Okais, one of those who met Le Drian, said the envoy had emphasized the importance of implementing Resolution 1701 and extending Gen. Aoun’s term as army chief, given the current need to maintain Lebanon’s security.

Hezbollah opened a second front in southern Lebanon on Oct. 8 in the name of of “supporting the resistance in the Gaza Strip.” It has carried out many operations targeting the Israeli army, which in response launched several similar attacks against the southern border region. Israeli shelling has on occasion targeted towns deep inside southern Lebanon, killing more than 100 people including more than 80 members of Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Islamic Jihad in Lebanon.

Though the truce in the wider conflict in Gaza that took effect last Friday has been breached more than once, Hezbollah has largely adhered to the agreement.

However, further violations of the truce were reported on the southern Lebanese front on Thursday. Israeli military officials said two missiles were intercepted by their Iron Dome system on the outskirts of Rmaich, a village near the border with Israel.

“Our air-defense fighters have successfully intercepted a suspicious aerial target that crossed from Lebanon into Israeli territory,” they added.

Watchdog votes to curb chemical exports to Syria

Watchdog votes to curb chemical exports to Syria
Updated 30 November 2023

Watchdog votes to curb chemical exports to Syria

Watchdog votes to curb chemical exports to Syria
  • On Thursday, a majority of countries at the OPCW’s annual meeting voted for “collective measures” to stop the transfer of certain chemicals and chemical-making technology to Syria
  • These measures include beefing up export controls

THE HAGUE: The world’s chemical weapons watchdog voted Thursday to curb chemical exports to Syria, accusing Damascus of violating its toxic arms control treaty.
Syria agreed in 2013 to join the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, shortly after an alleged chemical gas attack killed more than 1,400 people near Damascus.
But the global watchdog, based in The Hague, has since accused President Bashar Assad’s regime of continuing to attack civilians with chemical weapons in the Middle Eastern country’s brutal civil war.
Syria’s OPCW voting rights were suspended in 2021, an unprecedented rebuke, following poison gas attacks on civilians in 2017.
Damascus has denied the allegations.
On Thursday, a majority of countries at the OPCW’s annual meeting voted for “collective measures” to stop the transfer of certain chemicals and chemical-making technology to Syria.
These measures include beefing up export controls and preventing “the direct or indirect supply, sale, or transfer of chemical precursors and dual-use chemical manufacturing facilities and equipment and related technology,” the resolution said.
Put forward by 48 countries including Britain, France, Germany and the United States, the resolution said Syria had caused “serious damage to the object and purpose of the Chemical Weapons Convention.”
It cited Syria’s “continued possession and use of chemical weapons” and “its failures to submit an accurate and complete declaration and to destroy all its undeclared chemical weapons and production facilities.”
Syria’s civil war broke out in 2011 after the government’s repression of peaceful demonstrations escalated into a deadly conflict that pulled in foreign powers and global jihadists.
The war has killed more than half a million people and forced around half of the country’s pre-war population from their homes.