The U.S.-led coalition has air-dropped U.S. and allied Syrian forces near Tabqa in Raqqa province, expanding a campaign by the Syrian Democratic Forces militias against Islamic State, the SDF said on Wednesday. The operation aims both to capture the al-Tabqa area, across the Euphrates from the SDF’s other main holdings, and to curb Syrian government advances in that direction, the SDF’s Raqqa campaign said in a statement on social media. The landing forces had seized four small villages in the area west of al-Tabqa and cut a main highway that links the provinces of Raqqa, Deir al-Zor and Aleppo, the SDF, a U.S.-backed alliance of militias added.
Dozens of displaced persons have been killed in an air raid allegedly carried out by the US-led anti-ISIS coalition on a school where they were sheltering in the ISIS-controlled Al-Raqqah province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Wednesday. It reported that at least 33 people were killed in the bombardment by warplanes believed to belong to the International Coalition, carried out in the city of Mansura in western Al-Raqqah province on Tuesday night. SOHR activists said that 33 bodies being pulled out of the rubble of the school before members of ISIS arrived to drive civilians away.
Iran’s permanent representative envoy to the UN said Iran together with Russia and Turkey as Guarantor States will spare no efforts to guarantee the Ceasefire Regime in Syria, agreed on 30 December 2016. Here a citation: “The Islamic Republic of Iran, with the aim of ending the ongoing crises in Syria and within the framework of its principled policy based on respecting the Syrian territorial integrity and sovereignty, finding a political solution to the crisis through intra-Syrian talks and objection to the instrumental use of terrorism for political gains; has taken effective measures upon the request of the Syrian Arab Republic in different political, humanitarian and anti-terrorism areas, including sending humanitarian assistance to Syrian civilians”.
Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş on March 17 condemned the bombing of a mosque in northern Syria as a “war crime”. An airstrike on a mosque in the village of Al-Jina, located west of Aleppo city, killed 58 people at night of March 16. “This is a crime against humanity, this is a war crime”, Kurtulmuş told reporters in the northwestern province of Çanakkale. “Bombing civilians, people in the mosque, and a house of worship is unacceptable”.
Saturday morning,a rocket was fired from Gaza and hit an open area in the south of Israel. According to reports from Gaza, Israel forces responded to the attack by hitting the northern area of the Gaza Strip. Everything has happened just a day after ISrael had shot down a rocket that had been fired drom Syria.
The United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan De Mistura has condemned Wednesday’s terrorist attacks in Damascus saying they are plainly designed to spoil attempts to sustain political talks. “The Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura condemns the terrorist attacks in Damascus which have claimed the lives of innocent civilians. These attacks are also plainly designed to spoil attempts to sustain political talks”, de Mistura’s office said in a statement on Wednesday.
The third round of Syria reconciliation talks in Astana is being extended for one day in the anticipation of arrival of Syrian armed opposition representatives to the negotiations, with the talks participants expected to discuss differentiation between terrorists and armed groups, the Kazakh Foreign Ministry’s Asia and Africa Department Director General AidarbekTumatov told Sputnik. “Tomorrow, on the 16th, the talks will be continued with a military aspect included, which, I think, is important, given the issues of terrorist groups’ location, including that of the IS and the Jabhat al-Nusra, and the location of moderate opposition are expected to be discussed”,Tumatov said. The future of the document will depend on the participants of the talks, but the humanitarian aspect is the most important in this process, the official added.
The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the European Commission have today adopted a Joint Communication proposing a forward- looking EU strategy for Syria. As outlined in the Joint Communication, the European Union’s engagement in Syria goes beyond the current state of play. It is defined by a longer term perspective in support of the EU’s strategic goals on Syria. The European Union will continue to be the first and leading donor in the international response to the humanitarian crises, providing life-saving humanitarian assistance and resilience support to the Syrian people and neighbouring countries hosting Syrian refugees.
Talks aimed at ending the war in Syria have started in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana without the opposition, leaving little hope for a breakthrough. Syrian opposition groups on March 13 said they would not attend the talks, accusing the Syrian government and its backer Russia of failing to adhere to a cease-fire brokered in December. Bashar al-Jaafari, the Syrian government envoy, said the absence of the opposition showed that Turkey was breaking its commitments. Ankara supports some Sunni Arab rebel factions seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad’s government. Reacting to the opposition’s refusal to attend the talks, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the peace process was “hugely complex”.
The UN’s human rights chief has described the Syrian conflict as the “worst man-made disaster since World War II,” citing widespread torture and a “tidal wave of bloodshed and atrocity.” “Today, in a sense the entire country has become a torture chamber: a place of savage horror and absolute injustice”, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights ZeidRa’ad al-Hussein said in a statement on March 14. He called for the release of tens of thousands of prisoners being held by the warring sides in Syria and said that bringing the perpetrators of crimes, including torture, to justice was necessary for reaching a lasting peace. Zeid also said efforts to end “this senseless carnage” had been repeatedly vetoed, an apparent reference to Russia and China’s steps to protect President Bashar al-Assad by blocking Western-backed UN Security Council resolutions.