According to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, an attack happened against their inspectors, who were en route to the north east of Syria to inspect a rebel-suspected chlorine gas attack by the Syrian regime. The Syrian state media reported that rebels had kidnapped the six inspectors, then changed its statements after the OPCW and the Syrian Foreign Ministry’s announcement.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry, who was first to say the six inspectors were kidnapped, also retracted and changed its statement. According to the OPCW, the six inspectors are safe and they are now returning to their operating base.
The Syrian Saiqa Force, a part of the Free Syrian Army, accompanied the OPCW inspectors to the site where the rebels suspect a chlorine gas attack had happened. Should the regime prove guilty of using such weaponry, they have violated their US-Russia deal, which states that Syria cannot make use of chemical weapons and that its chemical arsenal must be submitted by April.
The Syrian government had missed many of its deadlines for eliminating the chemical stockpiles as some areas are rebel-held. Around 7.8% of its chemical weapons arsenal remains, and these are due for destruction by the end of May 2014.
Fighting between rebels and regime forces continue in different areas of the country. A Hezbollah commander on top of the FBI’s Most Wanted list had been killed in one battle.
Russia confirms that it will veto the UN’s plan to authorise the International Criminal Court to look into the allegations against the Syrian government and opposition. Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov confirmed Moscow’s position in the matter, which political analyst as consistent with its intention to protect Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the regime.
France has been the first country to propose the investigation based on photographic evidence provided by a defector that the Syrian regime had killed, en masse, thousands of detainees from rebels, opposition and civilians. It called on the ICC to give a mandate over crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Syrian conflict.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in Britain, its ground sources from opposition and activists confirm a casualty count of around 160,000. Humanitarian groups confirm that millions of Syrians are also displaced from their country.
“If the UN puts a vote on its proposal, we will veto it.” Gatilov told the Interfax news agency. Countries expect the voting to begin on Thursday. Political analysts predict that China, Russia’s closest ally, will also veto the proposal.
The two countries’ refusal to vote on the investigation will raise the political price tag for Russia or China because they have obstructed justice for Syria through their veto, according to Human Rights Watch Director of International Justice Richard Dicker.
The UN Relief and Works Agency Spokesman Chris Gunness, posted a photo of thousands of hungry Syrians lining up for emergency rations near their bombed neighbourhood near Damascus. The photo was shared in social media eight million times, and Gunness said to critics and doubters of the photo that the photo was not faked and it was something he saw with his own eyes.
Gunness said that people may claim it to have been edited or “shopped” because they were denying the real events in Syria today.
Syria is currently in the fourth year of its civil war, which originally began with minorities calling for equality and more human rights escalating into a full-scale war involving many different factions.
Gunness said that the photo was an accurate reflection of the reality in Syria. Currently in Jerusalem, Gunnees expressed his own outrage for the conditions of Yarmouk Camp, showed the photo as a representative of the situation.
The photo Gunness posted is part of a social media campaign called Thunderclap, which has 130 humanitarian relief organizations and UN agencies calling for Syrian civilians to have peaceful passage between the Syrian Regime and Rebel forces as they are caught between the crossfire.
The photo will be displayed on a giant screen in Times Square and is expected to retweet the photo 23 million times in different accounts to reflect the Syrian population.
The New York Times and Daily mail had already printed the photograph in their newspapers.
As the Geneva II Talks proceed, the Syrian rebels and regime forces continue to battle in different areas that have taken more civilian lives in the process. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights in Britain, more than 4,959 civilians have died in the last three weeks of fighting, 515 of which were women and children.
Peace talks in the Swiss city have not reaped any solid result. One positive note is that both sides have allowed UN-backed humanitarian aid to pass through military and rebel-held areas to safeguard and transport civilians and deliver aid to the innocent. According to witnesses interviewed by news agencies, the humanitarian aid trucks arrived in location without trouble or interference from rebels or regime forces.
However, the UN mediators are pressuring US and Russia to push their two respective sides of the Syrian civil war to create progress in the peace talks. So far, Russia had still vetoed many proposals for a security council draft pertaining to Syria’s recovery.
The Syrian opposition still views a future without Syrian President Bashar al-Assad involved in the political stature of the future Syria.
UN proposals for Syria’s recovering nation involve “weeding out” foreign fighters regardless of which side they are fighting for in the civil war. Syria continues to be aided by Hezbollah forces, while a faction in the Syrian rebels include al-Qaeda linked groups.
According to political analysts, Iran is the key factor in finally bringing the end to the years-long Syrian civil war because Iran is Syria’s main ally in the Middle East. According to Iran President Hassan Rouhani, the peace talks could fail without their participation. Iran’s statement was a response to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s handing out of the Geneva 2 Talks without Iran on the first list.
Russia vouches for Iran’s participation. However, the US’ sanctions and blocking had disallowed Iran’s involvement in the Syrian peace talks. Iran had made it clear that it also intends to end the Syrian civil war through political means.
According to political analysts, it would look wrong if the US accepted Iran’s capabilities to negotiate a truce in the Syrian civil war given that it is supplying armaments the regime uses against the rebels and civilians as the conflict progressed. They said that the rebels in the peace talks might find it insulting.
Some analysts also said that the Iranian involvement in the Syrian negotiations will only strengthen Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s position. However, they also said the connection between Iran and Syria is the only key as it is the closest ally Syria has in the Middle East.
Given the relieving of some sanctions by the United Nations on reducing the Uranium Enrichment program of Iran, Iran can definitely make a change should western influence dominate.
According to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, it had received the complete disclosure from the Syrian government regarding its chemical weapons programme and that the technical secretariat was reviewing the information received.
Syria’s compliance to the US-Russia brokered deal that it destroy its chemical weapons by mid-2014 does not make a difference to the west’s stand against its government. Evidence from UN weapons inspectors show great evidence that the Syrian government used their chemical weapons against their own people on Aug 22, which killed 1,400 lives including children.
The outrage and intensity of the Syrian chemical attack urged the US and western countries to mount an attack. However, Russia proposed that Syria submit and destroy all its chemical weapons instead.
The chemical attack was condemned as a war crime by the international community. However, Russia is still “irritated” with the western countries, who had already made up their mind that Syrian President Bashar al- Assad was behind the chemical attack despite lack of evidence.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have said that the US was planning to sabotage the arms deal to make an excuse to use military force to take down the government and spare the opposition of any crime they could have committed.
The UN has announced that they will send weapons inspectors to Syria in order to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons by Bashar Assad. The UN team has made plans to visit three sites over the course of two weeks, including a northern town at the centre of allegations of chemical weapons use. All plans have been made with the acceptance of authorities in Damascus.
About 26 people were killed in the attacks in Khan al-Assal in March. The delay to the UN mission had been over differences with the Syrian government over the scope of the investigation. On 31st July the Syrian government finally agreed to allow UN inspectors to visit the sites and only this passing Wednesday the UN said its team had completed preparations for the trip. The mandate of the 10-member investigating team is led by Swedish arms expert Ake Sellstroem. The investigation, however, is limited to reporting on whether chemical weapons were actually used and which ones, and it will not determine responsibility for any attacks.
The UN has confirmed that the trip was “extendable upon mutual consent” after the first two weeks and they have also confirmed that the locations to be investigated have not been identified so far. A Syrian foreign ministry official told the AFP news agency the investigating team was expected to arrive very soon, possibly in the net few days. “There were no difficulties in the negotiations and Syria said it is ready to give the team all the facilities it needs to carry out its mission,” the UN official claimed, also adding: “Syria has nothing to hide.”
More than 100,000 people have now been killed during the 28-month conflict, as what started out as anti-government protests inspired by the Arab Spring rapidly descended into a full-scale civil war in Syria. The possibility of President Bashar al-Assad using Syria’s chemical weapons stock is a factor that has most worried Western observers of the conflict. The UN says it has received more than 10 reports of chemical weapons use in Syria – one from the Damascus government about the events at Khan al-Assal, with the rest mainly from the UK, France and USA. What is also worrying to note is that Syria is one of seven countries that have not joined the 1997 convention banning chemical weapons. On top of this fact, Syria is suspected to possess large undeclared stockpiles of mustard gas and sarin nerve agent.
Syrian forces make a breakthrough and a good follow through in recapturing Homs, the country’s third largest city, which was held by rebel forces for a year. The nine-day siege had the city attacked by regime airstrikes and artillery fire. Ground units began to advance slowly and rebel defences fell sharply to the assault.
Homes was one of the first cities Syrian rebels took over from the regime. It is crucial because it is a crucial road to Damascus. The coasts that are home to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Shiite supporters will be open once Homs is finally recaptured.
Syrian regime militaries recaptured Qusayr in a bloody battle, which had many casualties on both sides before the regime finally controlled the city as the rebels retreated. The military gained great superiority as Hezbollah fighters who supported the regime joined the fray.
However, the Hezbollah fighters did not see action in Homs. According to an anonymous Hezbollah Commander, they did not fight in Homs because the Syrian government did not need Hezbollah fighters in the campaign. He said that Qusayr was also along the Lebanese border and has many Shiite villages nearby. Hezbollah fighters do not fight in huge numbers, he said.
According to an anonymous Lebanese military intelligence official, Syria’s plan was to cut off the rebels inside Lebanon from transportation routes going to Damascus and the coast. Once Homs is cleared, they will concentrate on attacking Damascus and Aleppo after the Holy Month of Ramadan.
Syria’s air force carried out airstrikes against civilians according to Human Rights Watch. The attacks triggered serious violations to the international humanitarian law, and the ones who were involved of the attacks are responsible for war crimes.This was written on an 80 page report entitled “Death from the Skies” which is based on visits on 50 sites from government airstrikes in opposition-controlled areas in Aleppo, Idlib and Latakia provinces.
Researchers gathered out more than 140 interviewees including victims and witnesses.One of the targets of war are bakeries and hospitals, according to the Human Rights Watch. Syrian Parliament lawmaker, Sharif Shahadeh questioned the accuracy of HRW’s report.Human Rights Watch documented a detailed report having eight airstrikes on four bakeries.
The research “indicates government forces targeted bakeries and civilians waiting in breadlines in airstrikes as well as in artillery attacks,” the group said. “For each of these attacks, Human Rights Watch was not able to identify any military target, such as fighters or weapons, in the vicinity.” Local opposition group Syrian Revolution General Commission, have attacked 78 bakeries across Syria, by airstrikes or artillery shelling. There were repeated airstrikes on two hospitals in the areas that the Human Rights Watch visited. Human Rights Watch said that the rebels are blameless since it is not their obligation to minimize harm to the civilians.
The United Nations was reported to have attempted to widen the investigation of the use of chemical weapons in Syria. The country has rejected the move of the UN. It was the said incident in one of the villages in the Aleppo province that has prompted the UN to investigate on Syria’s use of this type of weapons. The investigation already started last month wherein a group of UN staff were sent in Cyprus to do the investigation.
According to a report from a state-run media in Syria, the country already rejects the investigation because the United Nation already attempted to dig in deeper. The investigation was said to have already included Syria as a whole. The ongoing unrest in Syria was said to have been the main concern of the UN since 2011 when the civil war began. A lot of the Syrian refugees were assisted by the UN staff in different evacuation centers near Syria. In the capital of Syria which is Damascus, there were a number of fifteen people who died due to a car explosion. A bomb was planted in the car causing it to explode and have injured people. With the different incidents happening in the Syrian capital and its nearby areas, both the Syrian rebel forces and the Syrian government pass the blame on each other.
The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that there will be an additional task to follow that will allow the investigators from the UN to spread in Syria. A source from the Syrian Foreign Ministry said that this move will be causing a violation of the country’s sovereignty.