Tag Archives: syria

Russia criticizes U.S. policy on Syria ahead of Kerry Moscow go to

MOSCOW Russia stepped up its criticism of U.S. policy on Syria on the eve of a check out to Moscow by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, saying the United States had not shown it was prepared to cooperate fully in the struggle against Islamic State militants.

Russia would continue to urge Washington to rethink its policy of “dividing terrorists into excellent and bad ones”, Russia’s Foreign Ministry stated in a statement on Monday, ahead of Kerry’s visit to Moscow, which is scheduled for Dec. 15.

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly Writing by Dmitry Solovyov Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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Al Qaeda’s Syria wing says truces only benefit government

BEIRUT Truces in between the government and opposition fighters in Syria only advantage Damascus, the leader of one of the largest insurgent groups in the conflict stated in comments broadcast on Saturday.

The comments by Abu Mohamad al-Golani, head of al Qaeda’s Syria wing Nusra Front, came after the implementation of a truce deal in Waer, the last insurgent-held location of Homs city, among the regional government and insurgents.

“Truces are the first step to surrender and take place only in the interests of the regime,” he stated in comments to reporters broadcast on the opposition-affiliated Orient News Tv channel.

It was not quickly clear when the recording took location. Golani’s face was digitally obscured.

Beneath the Waer deal, fighters who rejected the terms and some civilians have been permitted leave and humanitarian aid was allowed in. Nusra Front fighters were among these who rejected the ceasefire and left.

A senior United Nations official told Reuters this week the Waer ceasefire was a great model to construct on and could aid market a nationwide truce in the practically 5-year conflict that has killed 250,000 men and women.

U.N. officials were present when fighters began to leave Waer final week.

Golani also criticized a Saudi-hosted Syrian opposition conference held last week as “a conspiracy” and stated fighters who had attended had not followed the orders of their leaders.

Nusra Front, a Sunni Muslim hardline group, was not invited, and Golani mentioned would not have wanted to attend anyway.

“(The conference) was not in the interests of the men and women of Syria, which is unacceptable,” he said. He also added that these who attended did not have the capacity to implement any outcomes on the ground.

Golani gave a rare two-portion interview to the Qatari-financed Al Jazeera channel earlier this year in what appeared to be an attempt by his group to cast itself to an Arab audience as a Syrian national movement.

“We took the path of jihad and we have to complete the process, and we are speaking about liberating much more than 80 % of Syrian territory,” he stated on Orient News.

(Reporting by Sylvia Westall in Beirut and Ali Abdelatti in Cairo Editing by Ros Russell)

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Putin orders military to be ‘extremely tough’ to protect Russian forces in Syria

Globe | Fri Dec 11, 2015 five:55am EST


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MOSCOW President Vladimir Putin on Friday ordered Russia’s armed forces to act in an “very hard way” in Syria to protect Russian forces striking Islamic State targets there.

“Any targets threatening our (military) group or land infrastructure must be immediately destroyed,” Putin mentioned, speaking at a Defence Ministry occasion.

(Reporting by Maria Kiselyova and Vladimir Soldatkin Writing by Dmitry Solovyov Editing by Hugh Lawson)


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Initial planeload of Syria refugees to arrive in Toronto on Thursday

OTTAWA The 1st planeload of Syrian refugees from camps in Jordan and Lebanon will arrive in Canada on Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated on Wednesday.

Yet another planeload will arrive in Montreal on Saturday, he told legislators.

The Liberal government plans to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year and a additional 15,000 by the finish of February. Officials say the refugees on the first planeloads will be largely or completely privately sponsored.

(Reporting by Randall Palmer)

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Another Paris attacker named, had been in Syria

PARIS The third man who attacked the Bataclan concert hall in Paris on Nov. 13 has been identified as a 23-year-old French national who went to Syria two years ago, according to officials involved in the inquiry into the several attacks on the French capital.

Investigators identified Foued Mohamed-Aggad as a single of 3 Islamist gunmen who killed 90 folks at the Bataclan following his mother told them that she had been informed of his death by text message from Syria, a lawyer for the dead man’s household mentioned.

Two of the three attackers killed themselves by exploding their suicide vests and another was shot dead by police.

Officials have yet to put names to all of eight dead gunmen and suicide bombers directly involved in last month’s attacks, for which Islamic State, a militant group that controls swathes of Syria and Iraq, claimed duty.

They managed to identify Mohamed-Aggad soon after getting alerted by his mother and then matching her DNA to his.

“The SMS message told her that her son had died, saying: “He died on November 13 with his brothers”,” said Francoise Cotta, lawyer for the mother and her family, who said the lady got the text message ten days ago.

“She was quickly struck by the horrific thought that he may well have been 1 of the Bataclan suicide attackers,” mentioned Cotta, adding that she was asked by the dead man’s mother to get in touch with investigators.

Mohamed-Aggad went to Syria in late 2013 with a gang of other people from his neighbourhood in an location outdoors the eastern French city of Strasbourg. Seven of the group were arrested in May 2014 soon after returning to France.

It remained unclear when and how Mohamed-Aggad returned to France, exactly where intelligence services are under scrutiny more than their monitoring of the movements of property-grown jihadists.

His older brother Karim, who also went to Syria, is in jail in France, the officials stated.

The Bataclan shootings were component of a co-ordinated attack in Paris in which assailants killed 130 individuals at a string of cafes, close to a sports stadium and at the Bataclan.

The other two attackers at the concert hall have been named as Samy Amimour, 28, from Drancy, north east of Paris, and Ismail Omar Mostefai, 29, a Frenchman of Algerian descent who lived for a time in Chartres, south west of Paris.

Amimour also spent time in Syria, as did the presumed ringleader of the Nov. 13 attackers, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 28, a Belgian of Moroccan origin who died in a police raid the following week.

Yet another Nov. 13 attacker, Salah Abdeslam, 26, French and born in Brussels, is still on the run.

(Writing by Andrew Callus and Brian Enjoy Editing by Catherine Evans)

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Kerry says aiming for New York Syria meeting on December 18

PARIS Nations involved in the Syrian peace approach are set to meet in New York on Dec. 18 but the talks may hinge on efforts to unite Syrian opposition groups in the coming days, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry mentioned on Tuesday.

Russia, the United States, European and Middle Eastern nations agreed final month on a two-year timeline top to Syrian national elections, but left several concerns unresolved, most notably the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The countries involved in the talks, which also consist of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey, laid out a plan which includes formal talks in between the government and opposition from Jan. 1.

To achieve that timeline, Saudi Arabia is hosting a conference this week to attempt to unite Syria’s divided rebel and opposition groups, who are attempting to forge a typical platform to be in a position to negotiate with the Syrian government.

“Based on the outcome of each the Saudi-led conference of the opposition that is taking spot in the next days, as properly as a few other troubles, it is our strategy to attempt … (to) have a meeting in New York on December 18,” Kerry said.

“But once more, it depends on the flow of events more than the next week,” he told reporters right after meeting U.N. Secretary Basic Ban Ki-moon at the climate adjust talks at Le Bourget on the outskirts of Paris.

A crucial concern for a ceasefire will be determining which groups fighting Assad will be branded moderate opposition fighters deserving of a seat at the negotiating table and which will be labeled terrorists.

Opposition groups deemed reputable will be invited to take part in the ceasefire although those labeled terrorists, so far Islamic State and al-Qaeda-linked groups, will be treated as fair game for Syrian government forces, Russia, the United States, France and other folks conducting air strikes in Syria.

“It is completely necessary that as was agreed in Vienna, there ought to be a nationwide ceasefire as quickly as feasible,” Ban stated. “In New York I hope we will have a firm and strong basis so that the ceasefire can be launched as nicely as the political approach.”

(Writing by John Irish editing by Andrew Callus and Estelle Shirbon)

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Saudi to host Syria rebel talks, riling Iran

BEIRUT A Syrian opposition meeting due to start in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday marks the most critical work however to unify President Bashar al-Assad’s fragmented enemies, a step observed as essential to peace talks sought by world powers but which has riled Iran.

While the outlook for the political track lately launched in Vienna appears bleak – international divisions more than Assad persist and the war in Syria has escalated – the Riyadh meeting delivers the prospect of forging a a lot more united opposition far better in a position to negotiate with the government.

Assad’s opponents and the governments that back them see it as a lengthy-overdue step towards ending the disunity that has obstructed diplomacy: the Turkish-primarily based political opposition that led the last round of failed peace talks two years ago was widely criticised as out of touch with forces on the ground.

The Riyadh meeting is meant to bring rebels, or those who represent them, to the table when negotiations start.

However Iran, whose Shi’ite-led government is an arch rival of the Sunni kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has stated the meeting is aimed at harming the Vienna peace talks and would trigger their failure. The Vienna approach envisages formal talks amongst the Syrian government and the opposition by Jan. 1.

The participants invited to Riyadh consist of powerful Islamist factions Islam Army and Ahrar al-Sham – a group whose founders had links to al Qaeda. Ahrar al-Sham nevertheless fights alongside the Nusra Front, al Qaeda’s Syrian wing, even though espousing a nationalist agenda.

Islam Army stated in a statement that its commander, Zahran Alloush, would not attend since the group had lost control of the road he had been organizing to use to exit the location in the Damascus suburbs where the group is primarily based. Members of Islam Army’s political workplace will attend as an alternative, it said.

A dozen Free of charge Syrian Army rebel groups will also attend, like groups vetted by the United States that have received foreign military help. They include recipients of U.S.-created anti-tank missiles supplied to rebels in bigger quantities considering that Russia intervened militarily on Assad’s side on Sept. 30.

“It is the initial time there is a meeting in Saudi – a meeting of soldiers and politicians – and it has a higher chance of achievement because Saudi is hosting it,” stated the head of 1 of the FSA groups.

“Saudi is a pivotal state in the area and for it to take this step – to host a conference of the Syrian opposition factions – definitely one thing genuine will outcome from it.”

He declined to be named due to the fact of political sensitivities surrounding the conference. Underlining the complexities, media access to the conference is anticipated to be very restricted.

An initial list of 65 invitees has grown to many much more than that, sources familiar with arrangements say.


Even with backing from Saudi Arabia, the United States and others, analysts nonetheless see scope for friction in Riyadh, notably in between groups battling to unseat Assad and members of the Damascus-primarily based opposition who are expected to attend.

“Attempting to get these two poles to agree to the exact same platform and to negotiate as one particular unit is going to prove really challenging if not not possible, it’s not entirely clear to me whether it is even advisable,” mentioned Noah Bonsey, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group.

A Syrian Kurdish group that has taken over wide areas of northern Syria and which has fought Islamic State with U.S. assist meanwhile says it has not been invited to the talks at all. One of the Kurdish-run enclaves in Syria declared the Saudi talks “doomed to fail” with no Kurdish involvement.

Diplomacy towards ending the almost 5-year conflict has accelerated considering that Russia deployed its air force to mount strikes in support of the Syrian army.

Iran has also intervened with more forces considering that then. Hundreds of its elite Revolutionary Guard Corps are fighting alongside the Syrian army in ground offensives getting waged with Russian air cover in several regions of western Syria.

Saudi Arabia has in turn boosted support to the rebels. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir mentioned on Nov. 26 that a military choice in Syria was nonetheless viable and help for the opposition fighting to topple Assad would continue.

Russia’s air campaign has mostly hit areas of western Syria that are critical to Assad’s survival and exactly where the Islamic State group – the stated target of the Russian intervention – has small or no presence.

All the rebels attending the meeting are enemies of Islamic State, which controls swathes of eastern Syria seized mainly from other insurgent groups. The Nusra Front, listed as a terrorist group by the United States, has also not been invited.

A diplomat who tracks Syria stated Russia would object to the participation of both Islam Army and Ahrar al-Sham due its hyperlinks to the Nusra Front and al Qaeda. “The Iranians really feel uncomfortable with the Saudis top,” the diplomat added.

“The aim of agreeing the parameters of negotiations with the regime is challenging to achieve.”

But the spokesman for a single of the FSA groups due to attend said Ahrar al-Sham have been portion of the Syrian folks.

“We did not take portion ahead of in conferences before, but we hope that this conference will be essential for the future of Syria and ending the war,” mentioned Abu Ghaith al-Shami of Alwiyat Seif al-Sham, which operates in southern Syria.

(Additional reporting by Suleiman al-Khalidi in Amman and Sylvia Westall and John Davison in Beirut Writing by Tom Perry Editing by Giles Elgood and Jonathan Oatis)

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Syria accuses U.S. coalition of attacking army camp, Washington denies

BEIRUT Syria’s government mentioned the U.S.-led military coalition have carried out a deadly air strike on a Syrian army camp, but officials from the U.S-led alliance mentioned the report was false.

Syria mentioned 4 coalition jets killed three soldiers and wounded 13 in the eastern Deir al-Zor province on Sunday evening, calling it an act of aggression, the very first time it has created such an accusation.

Any such strike by U.S.-led coalition planes, which have been focusing their fire on Islamic State militants, would additional complicate an increasingly regional conflict now practically 5 years old.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported earlier that jets most likely to be from the coalition hit element of the Saeqa military camp close to the town of Ayyash in Deir al-Zor province, killing 4 Syrian army personnel.

But Brett McGurk, U.S. President Barack Obama’s envoy to the coalition, mentioned on his Twitter account: “Reports of coalition involvement are false.”

Colonel Steve Warren, a Baghdad-based spokesman for the U.S-led coalition, mentioned the alliance had conducted 4 strikes in the Deir al-Zor province on Sunday, all against oil nicely heads.

“Our strikes have been roughly 55 kilometers (35 miles)south east of Ayyash. We did not strike any vehicles or personnel targets. We have no indication any Syrian soldiers have been near our strikes,” he said.

A U.S. defense official, who declined to be named, dismissed the idea that the coalition would target the Syrian military.

“We are not at war with the Assad regime and have no cause to target the Syrian Army,” the official stated. “We are aware that Russia carried out long-range bomber strikes into Syria yesterday.”

Yet another U.S. defense official stated Deir al-Zor was amongst the places Russia had targeted on Sunday. Russian officials were not quickly accessible for comment.

The U.S.-led coalition first launched air strikes against Islamic State in Syria in September 2014, soon after beginning aerial operations against the group in neighbouring Iraq the earlier month.

Its strikes have regularly targeted Deir al-Zor province in eastern Syria, most of which is held by Islamic State, like oilfields that are a source of revenue for the group.

The province hyperlinks Islamic State’s de facto capital in Raqqa with territory controlled by the group in Iraq.


Britain joined the United States and its allies last week in the bombing campaign against Islamic State in Syria, before proposed international peace talks later this month. Syria’s fragmented opposition are set to meet in Riyadh this week to try to unite ahead of the talks.

The Syrian foreign ministry stated jets fired nine missiles at the camp, state Tv reported.

The ministry sent letters to U.N. Secretary Basic and to the head of the U.N. Safety Council condemning the “flagrant aggression,” state news agency SANA stated.

It urged the United Nations to take “instant action and take the needed measures to prevent a repeat” of the incident.

The foreign ministry stated 3 armoured autos, four military vehicles and a weapons cache and ammunition had also been destroyed.

The strikes “confirm once once again that the American coalition lacks the seriousness and trust (needed) to fight terrorism in an powerful way,” it said.

The Syrian government has only a limited presence in Deir al-Zor province, which is mainly controlled by Islamic State.

Syria’s ally Russia is waging its personal air campaign in assistance of President Bashar al-Assad, and has also been striking in Deir al-Zor.

Russia’s air raids have hit some Islamic State targets, but the United States and its allies say most of them have hit other foreign-backed rebel groups.

In Deir al-Zor city, an additional air strike overnight killed a woman and two of her young children, the Observatory stated.

(Further reporting Tom Perry and Mariam Karouny in Beirut, and Phil Stewart and Jonathan Landay in Washington Editing by Nick Macfie and Tom Heneghan)

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Syria talks will take spot in New York this month: Kerry

WASHINGTON Secretary of State John Kerry mentioned on Saturday the subsequent round of talks on the Syrian crisis would take place in New York later this month.

“The governments involved are going to meet later in this month in New York in order to continue to move this procedure forward,” Kerry stated in a speech to the Brookings Institution in Washington. 

“Our goal is to facilitate a transition that all parties have stated that they support,” he added.

Final month, Russia, the United States and powers from Europe and the Middle East met in Vienna, Austria for a second round of talks and outlined a plan for a political method in Syria top to elections inside two years. 

(Reporting by Idrees Ali Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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British bombers hit oil field targets in Syria for second time

LONDON British bombers produced their second round of strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria late on Friday, again hitting oil fields, British defense minister Michael Fallon stated on Saturday.

“Final evening we saw the Typhoons in action for the very first time, successfully hitting an oil field, oil well heads in eastern Syria out in the Omar field,” Fallon told Sky News.

British lawmakers authorized the bombing of Islamic State targets in Syria on Thursday. Hours right after that approval, British bombers struck the oilfields that the government says are getting employed to fund attacks on the West.

The Typhoon fighter bombers had only arrived at Britain’s airbase in Akrotiri, Cyprus on Thursday, bolstering its strike force of Tornado warplanes.

Fallon was speaking during a visit to the British airbase in Cyprus.

(Reporting by James Davey Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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