The head of United Nations relief operations said today that she was “deeply disappointed” that she has not yet been able to visit Syria to assess the humanitarian situation and meet with some of the country’s top officials.Valerie Amos, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, issued a statement voicing her disappointment and noting both her “repeated requests” to meet with top Syrian officials and the need for unhindered access by aid workers to people affected by the violence. Read more
Syrian Uprising 2011 Information Centre: SUMMARY (29/02/2012): At least 26 martyrs today as the regime continues to assault rebel towns across the country with artillery and tanks. In Homs many areas have been under bombardment and another whole family is reported slaughtered by the regime’s thugs. In Baba Amru the local FSA is putting up strong resistance, so far preventing Assad’s forces from entering the neighbourhood. Meanwhile, we salute French journalist Edith Bouvier who is reportedly refusing to leave Baba Amru alone, without also evacuating the rest of the injured there. Syria – Wednesday 29/02/2012 – Google Maps Read more
A delegation from the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria – NCB is on an official visit today (29/02/12) in Rome, Italy. The delegation is headed by Dr. Haytham Manna, who is accompanied by Dr. Ossama Al Taweel, member of the NCB’s Executive Bureau in Exile, and Ghassan Azzam. They are to take part in a conference on the subject of the Arab Spring that will be attended by Italian and European Ministers and by significant Arab and international figures. The delegation will also be meeting with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to update the Italian Government on the NCB’s position regarding the situation in Syria, on its position regarding the regional and international developments, and on the NCB’s vision for a political solution regarding the Syrian crisis. Read more
Syrian Uprising 2011 Information Centre: SUMMARY (28/02/2012): At least 70 martyrs today – mostly in Homs and Halfaya in Hama province. Paul Conroy, one of the foreign journalists trapped in Baba Amru, has been smuggled out of Syria with help from activists – at least 1 of whom was killed helping him escape. While the UN Human Rights Council described the situation as deteriorating, Tunisia has offered Assad asylum. There are now 8,800-9,200 recorded martyrs – 1,750 of them have fallen in the last 4 weeks. Syria – Tuesday 28/02/2012 – Google Maps Read more
Statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay at The Urgent Debate on the Human Rights and Humanitarian Situation in the Syrian Arab Republic at the Human Rights Council 19th Session: Geneva, 28 February 2012
Thank you for convening this debate on the human rights situation in Syria under agenda item 1
As you may know, on 13 February, I briefed the General Assembly on the situation of human rights in Syria, and appealed to Member States to act urgently to protect the Syrian people from the continuously violent crackdown and the rise in casualties. I called upon the international community to take action and spare the civilian population from further suffering amidst countless atrocities committed against them. Read more
Some of the bodies of the 64 martyrs of Baba Amr treacherously killed yesterday evening.
Syrian Uprising 2011 Information Centre: SUMMARY (27/02/2012): At least 130 martyrs have fallen today, including 96 JUST in Homs. This includes at least 64 civilians fleeing Baba Amru who were reportedly rounded up and slaughtered by Assad’s men with guns and knives, while the women were kidnapped. Tanks pounded Sarmin (Idlib province), while helicopters were used to attack rebel areas north of Aleppo including Azaz and Anadan. In Hama 4 young men were executed in the village of Kafar al-Toun. Meanwhile, the EU is imposing more sanctions, Qatar says the world should arm the FSA. Syria – Monday 27/02/2012 – Google Maps Read more
Syrian Uprising 2011 Information Centre: Summary (26/02/2012): Baba Amru has been under heavy bombardment for 24 continuous days now. 16 out of today’s 60 martyrs have fallen there and the Red Cross said they couldn’t reach agreement with the regime to enter the area or to evacuate the foreign journalists. Meanwhile other parts of Homs, Hama and even Damascus the capital are not much better. Meanwhile, Jordan’s Information Minister said that more than 80,000 Syrians have now fled to Jordan. And yet most media were talking about the referendum on the constitution…. WTF ?!! Syria – Sunday 26/02/2012 – Google Maps Read more
Syrian Uprising 2011 Information Centre: Anas Tarsheh, a first year student of business management at Qalamoun University from Homs. Anas was also an activist who broadcast live the protests in al-Malaab district of the city. He was killed by a tank shell on 24/02/2012 – the third media activist to be killed within 48 hours.
Homs (25/02/2012): The funeral for the martyrs in Khaldiyeh district despite the shelling and the smoke in the air. “We swear by almighty God, we wont forget our martyrs. We win or we win.”
UPDATE (25/02/2012): To correct last night’s summary – the Red Cross evacuated 27 people from Baba Amru. The 2 injured and 2 dead foreign journalists were NOT among them. Meanwhile at least 40 martyrs have fallen today as Assad’s forces continue to assault areas across Syria. Many areas of Homs remain under shelling – the Khaled ibn al-Walid mosque (burial place of an Islamic hero and a symbol of Homs) has been slightly damaged in the shelling. The regime’s forces are also attacking many towns in Hama countryside and the town of Azaz, north of Aleppo. The video shows yesteday’s shelling in the city of Idlib.
British Syrians & Friends in Solidarity with the Syrian Revolution: Jonathan Miller talks to Mani, the cameraman who shot the Horror of Homs, perhaps the most vivid and moving footage of Syria’s beleaguered city.
Q&A with Horror of Homs cameraman - Jonathan Miller talks to Mani, the cameraman who shot the Horror of Homs, perhaps the most vivid and moving footage of Syria’s beleagured city.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed that only a political solution will end the crisis in Syria, where the Government’s bloody crackdown against its own people continues unabated, and urged world leaders to act quickly and coherently to stop the violence.“Each and every member of the international community has a responsibility to help stop the violence and ensure the well-being of the Syrian people,” Mr. Ban told the International Conference of the Friends of the Syrian People, held in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia.
“It is time to end the bloodshed and suffering. I urge this meeting to find common ground and act to alleviate the worsening plight of the Syrian people.”
Thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed since the uprising – part of the broader Arab Spring movement across North Africa and the Middle East – began last March.
“Roughly one year later, the prolonged violence now poses a profound test for the international community and the United Nations in three areas: human rights, humanitarian access and finding a political solution,” Mr. Ban said in his message, which was delivered by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe.
Mr. Ban noted that the crisis in Syria did not start with calls for regime change. “People wanted reform and an end to oppression, exclusion, and marginalization… They were met with implacable aggression.”
He fully supported the call of the International Committee of the Red Cross for a daily humanitarian pause or truce to enable the delivery of assistance by the UN and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, and reported that Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos will travel to Syria at the earliest opportunity to negotiate access with the authorities.
“The Syrian authorities must cease all violence, respect human rights, protect the population, release all prisoners arbitrarily detained, withdraw armed forces from cities and towns, guarantee freedom of assembly and allow unhindered access for outside monitors,” said Mr. Ban.
Yesterday the UN and the League of Arab States appointed former UN chief Kofi Annan as their Joint Special Envoy for the Syrian crisis, a move welcomed by the President of the General Assembly, which called for the appointment in a resolution adopted earlier this month.
Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser urged the Syrian authorities and all other parties involved in the crisis “to cooperate fully with the new envoy to achieve a quick resolution that ensures the restoration of peace, security and national unity to Syria.”
He also welcomed the offer by Turkey to host the next meeting of the Friends of the Syrian People.
Mr. Annan issued a statement today, stating that he looked forward to having the full cooperation of all relevant parties and stakeholders in support of this “united and determined effort” by the UN and the Arab League to help bring an end to the violence and human rights abuses, and promote a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis.
Also on Wednesday, the UN-appointed Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria released a report stating that the human rights situation inside Syria has deteriorated “significantly” since November, with continuing widespread, systematic and gross violations by security forces against civilians.
It added that the nature and scale of abuses committed by Syrian forces indicate that crimes against humanity are likely to have been committed since March 2011. “The international community must unite to ensure accountability for these crimes,” Mr. Ban said.
The UN Human Rights Council is scheduled to hold an urgent debate on Syria next Tuesday, and consider the report of the commission of inquiry on 12 March.
[local time] 20:26 Saturday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 107 people, the General Commission of the Syrian Revolution reported on its website.
20:26 Saturday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 100 people, most of them killed in Homs and Hama, the General Commission of the Syrian Revolution reported on its website.
20:20 The head of the Kuwaiti Al-Rahma international charity, Badr Abu Rahma, has offered humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees located in different Lebanese border villages in the North, the National News Agency (NNA) reported.
20:03 The ICRC said in a statement that there is no agreement on evacuating the wounded from Baba Amr in Syria, AFP reported.
18:24 The Syrian forces have executed eight detainees in Edleb’s Aafes, Al-Jazeera television reported on Saturday.
18:20 The Syrian army is shelling houses in Daraa’s village of Alma following clashes with rebels, Al-Arabiya television reported.
18:18 Saturday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 75, among them 31 people killed in Homs and 19 in Hama, the Local Coordination Committees said.
17:41 Saturday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 64 people, the General Commission of the Syrian Revolution said on its website.
17:26 Iran reaffirmed Saturday its opposition to any military intervention in Syria, after an international conference suggested sending an Arab force to Tehran’s ally to subdue ongoing bloodshed.
17:18 Clashes erupted between the Syrian army and rebels in Daraa’s Alma, Al-Arabiya television quoted activists as saying on Saturday.
16:04 Regime forces killed 41 civilians in Syria on Saturday, while 16 soldiers died in explosions and clashes with rebels, a monitoring group said.
15:58 Saturday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 50 people, the General Commission of the Syrian Revolution reported on its website.
15:05 The Syrian army is shelling Saraqib in Edleb district after it had besieged the town, Al-Arabiya television reported.
15:01 The Lebanese Red Cross transferred 10 injured Syrians to hospitals in North Lebanon on Saturday, the National News Agency reported.
14:15 Fourty people have been killed by security forces’ gunfire on Saturday, activists told Al-Arabiya
13:22 Syrian security forces kill nine civilians in Homs, activists say.
12:58 France is intensifying diplomatic efforts to rescue wounded Western journalists from the besieged Syrian city of Homs, foreign ministry spokesperson Bernard Valero said Saturday.
12:41 Syrian security forces have killed on Saturday 23 people, activists told Al-Arabiya.
11:31 Seventeen people have been killed so far by security forces in the districts of Homs, Hama and Aleppo, activists told Al-Arabiya.
10:54 Bulgarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Nickolay Mladenov told NOWLebanon on Friday that suggestions to supply arms to the Syrian opposition must be looked into with “caution.”
10:01 The Syria army’s shelling of a number of villages in Hama injured 11, activists told Al-Jazeera.
9:25 The Red Cross made a new attempt on Saturday to bring out people trapped in the besieged Syrian city Homs, two of them wounded Western journalists, after a first successful rescue of civilians.
8:30 Three top US senators on Friday called for “responsible nations” to help the Syrian opposition, including providing weapons to defend themselves against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
8:16 President Barack Obama said Friday he wants “every tool available” to stop the “slaughter” of civilians in Syria, as he backed an international meeting on the crisis.
7:54 Iraq will not invite the Syrian government or opposition to an Arab summit to be held in Baghdad in late March, Iraq’s foreign minister said in an interview broadcast on Friday.
Attempts by the Red Cross to evacuate more people trapped in the Baba Amr suburb of the Syrian city of Homs have stalled, with reports of more deaths from shelling.
The organisation had been in negotiation with the Syrian authorities but had made no progress by nightfall.
It evacuated several people on Friday but not two injured Western reporters.
Activists say 50 people died in unrest across Syria on Saturday, nearly half of them in Homs.
The BBC’s Jim Muir in neighbouring Lebanon says that, throughout the day, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Syrian Red Crescent officials had tried to negotiate another evacuation of seriously wounded people from Baba Amr.
This included the two Western journalists, Edith Bouvier and Paul Conroy, as well as the bodies of another two journalists, Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik, who were killed last week.
ICRC spokesman Hisham Hassan said: “Unfortunately we will not be able to enter Baba Amr today (Saturday). We continue our negotiations, hoping that tomorrow we will be able to enter Baba Amr to carry out our life-saving operations.”Footage of mourning in the Khalidieh district of Homs was broadcast on YouTube
He said the Syrian Arab Red Crescent had continued to carry out evacuations in other areas of Syria, including two in other neighbourhoods of Homs.
Activists said 11 people were killed on Saturday by renewed shelling in Baba Amr, which has borne the brunt of the army bombardment of Homs that began last month.
Hundreds of armed rebels from the Free Syrian Army are holding out in the suburb.
In Khalidieh, a district close to Baba Amr, thousands of mourners packed a square and chanted anti-regime slogans as six coffins were paraded around in a circle. They were of people killed in the latest violence.
In addition to the deaths in and around Homs, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported that:
- Security forces shot dead six people in Ezaz in Aleppo province
- Some 4,000 people took to the streets in Aleppo itself to mourn a protester killed on Friday
- Six civilians were killed in the villages of Maarazaf and al-Majdel, in Hama province
- Sixteen members of the security forces were killed in clashes with rebels across the country
Meanwhile, international pressure is mounting on President Bashar al-Assad to end his government’s 11-month crackdown on opponents.
Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary general who has been appointed the UN and Arab League’s envoy to Syria, called for all parties to co-operate in finding a peaceful solution to the crisis.
On Friday a meeting of the “Friends of Syria” group was held in the Tunisian capital, Tunis.
Delegates from 70 countries issued a declaration calling on the Damascus government to end violence immediately, allow humanitarian access, and permit the delivery of relief supplies.
The UN estimated in January that 5,400 people had been killed in the conflict. Activists say the death toll now is more than 7,300.
The Syrian regime restricts access to foreign journalists and casualty figures cannot be verified.
Violence continues amid heightened tension between Syria and Saudi Arabia over its support for rebels
At least 28 people have been killed in clashes between government troops and opposition forces in Syria as the Red Cross continued efforts to evacuate civilians from the besieged city of Homs.
Nine of those deaths occurred in Homs, which is under heavy bombardment by forces loyal to the president, Bashar al-Assad, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Another activist group, the Local Co-ordination Committees, said 36 people had been killed, 17 of them in Homs.
The violence continued amid heightened tension between Syria and Saudi Arabia over the latter’s support for arming forces opposed to Assad’s regime.
The Syrian state-run newspaper Al-Thawra attacked the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, for supporting the uprising, accusing him of becoming a partner in the killing of Syrians.
Faisal described the arming of the Free Syrian Army as an “excellent idea” at an inaugural meeting in Tunisia of an anti-Assad group, the Friends of Syria.
Al-Thawra said that the prince, by “rudely” supporting an armed opposition, had become a “direct partner in shedding more Syrian blood”.
“It’s shameful for the vocabulary of the Saudi speech to reach this level … and to announce so rudely support for terrorists,” Al-Thawra said.
Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it had resumed negotiations with the Syrian authorities and the opposition to enable more civilians to be brought to safety.
The ICRC said the Syrian Red Crescent had evacuated a total of 27 people from Baba Amr on Friday.
Four western journalists, two of whom were wounded in an attack that killed two other foreign journalists on Wednesday, have yet to be extracted from the shattered neighbourhood.
Qatar’s foreign minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, has called for the creation of an Arab force to “open humanitarian corridors to provide security to the Syrian people”.
Activists in Homs, a city of more than 800,000 people at the junction of highways leading from Damascus to Aleppo and from the coast to the interior, described Friday’s Friends of Syria meeting in Tunisia as a failure that had brought them no relief.
“I don’t really care about the Tunis conference. All I care about is getting help for my family in the besieged areas,” said Waleed Fares, contacted from Beirut. “The political calculations are not the same as the calculations for us revolutionaries.”
Nadir Husseini, an activist in Baba Amr, a rebel-held district of Homs, said: “They [foreign leaders] are still giving opportunities to this man who is killing us and has already killed thousands of people.”
On Saturday, the state news agency Sana reported the funerals of 18 members of the security forces killed by “armed terrorist groups” in Homs, Deraa, Idlib and the Damascus countryside.
The Red Cross failed to reach a deal with Syrian authorities and opposition members Saturday for a break in fighting so wounded people could be evacuated from the besieged city of Homs, an agency spokesman said.
“There has been no evacuation from Homs today. We simply could not reach any kind of agreement,” International Committee of the Red Cross spokesman Saleh Dabbakeh said from Damascus.
He said the ICRC will continue trying to negotiate for access.
The frustrated talks took place one day after Syrian forces agreed to a brief cease-fire in Homs to allow Red Crescent volunteer crews to evacuate seven wounded people, ICRC spokesman Hisham Hassan told CNN in a telephone interview. Twenty Syrian women and children, who were not hurt, were also evacuated, he said.
The ICRC has urged combatants to stop fighting for two hours each day to deliver humanitarian aid to Homs and other cities.
The calls for a cessation of violence come amid increasingly dire reports in Homs from the opposition and humanitarian organizations, who describe a lack of medical supplies, food and water shortages, and an increasing body count.
Friday’s evacuation offered a glimmer of hope for Homs residents who had been trapped by shelling and sniper fire for three weeks.
At least 47 of the 100 people killed across Syria on Saturday died in Homs, according to the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, a network of opposition groups.
Among those killed was 17-year-old Anas al-Tarsheh, an opposition videographer who primarily documented the shelling of the Sunni-dominated Homs neighborhood of Inshaat, the LCC said.
Deaths also occurred in the Hama suburbs, the Aleppo suburbs, Daraa province and Idlib province, the group said. A rebel leader in Idlib said Syrian soldiers burned houses, shelled towns and deployed snipers. Free Syrian Army Lt. Col. Mohamed Hamado said the empty Idlib house of FSA commander Col. Riad al-Assad was burned and destroyed.
More than 100 civilians were arrested during a raid of Rhaibeh in the Damascus suburbs, and 22 residents and three defected soldiers were arrested at a military checkpoint in Daraa, the LCC said.
Also Saturday, the mother of Marie Colvin, a veteran correspondent for The Sunday Times of London who was killed in a shelling attack in Homs, said her daughter’s body will likely be buried now in Syria. Aid workers determined removing the body would be too dangerous, she said.
It is unclear how quickly massive humanitarian aid efforts proposed at a meeting of international leaders Friday can begin to make its way into Syria.
The Friends of Syria group, consisting of dozens of nations, including the United States and members of the European Union and the Arab League, was formed to deal with the Syrian crisis after Russia and China vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution this month addressing the Syrian crisis.
The aid proposal calls for a plan to store relief — from food to medical supplies — in temporary stations in neighboring countries that can be moved into Syria at a moment’s notice.
Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the joint special envoy of the United Nations and Arab League on the Syrian crisis, will oversee the effort. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s government has given no indication it is willing to accept such aid.
The reports of violence in Homs and other locations Saturday came on the eve of a constitutional referendum that al-Assad has called a reform initiative, but has been widely ridiculed as a superficial measure undertaken to mollify critics.
Syrian civilians are saying that regime authorities are pressuring them into voting for the referendum, Hamado said.
CNN and other media outlets cannot independently verify opposition or government reports because Syria has severely limited access to the country by foreign journalists.
World powers have strongly condemned the year-long crackdown against civilians calling for his ouster. The LCC reports the death toll is around 9,000, while the Syrian government says more than 2,000 security forces have been killed.
The conflict erupted in mid-March of 2011, when al-Assad’s Alawite minority-dominated government launched a crackdown against a predominantly Sunni anti-government protest movement that eventually devolved into an uprising with an armed resistance. Al-Assad is an Alawite, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.
Al-Assad has denied targeting civilians, saying his forces are after “terrorists” and foreign fighters bent on destabilizing Syria.
But evidence that civilians are being killed by government forces has been documented by citizen journalists and the opposition who post their work on social media websites and YouTube.
Nearly 70 countries and international entities gathered the Friends of Syria meeting in Tunisia agreed to increase political and economic pressure on al-Assad.
The meeting prepared groundwork for a political transition in Syria not unlike the international planning that preceded the fall of Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi last year.
Al-Assad’s government scoffed at the plans, with Syria state television dismissing the meeting as a gathering of “icons from the colonial era who are conspiring against Syria and the Arab world.”
[Comment: this is uploaded to the SKS website for those who are interested. The issue is not about a new constitution under Bashar al-Assad's leadership - the current Constitution does not allow wanton killing of civilians. Stop the bloodshed.
We note: there is no intention to recognise Kurds as a significant minority; and the rules will not allow Kurdish political parties to be recognised. See also points made by Reuters below]
DAMASCUS, (SANA)_ Following is the full text of the Draft Constitution for the Syrian Arab Republic, to be put to referendum on February 26, 2012: Read more
A Statement from the delegation of the National Coordination Body to the ‘Friends of Syria’ conference in Tunisia
The National Coordination Body for Democratic Change has been closely following the movements leading to the ‘Friends of Syria’ conference. The NCB acknowledges the noble intentions behind the calling of the conference, especially since it is to be hosted by Tunisia, the country that sparked the Arab spring, whose its officials have always been resolutely against foreign military intervention in Syria and who abhor sectarianism and violence no matter where it emanates from. Tunisia has been dedicated to preserving the unity of Syria. It has sought to do this by attempting to unite the democratic resistance, unifying the efforts of the opposition rather than dividing them or creating tensions through favoritism and marginalization; and maintaining this unity through promoting the Arab plan because of its wide acceptance by the popular movements and the civil and political groupings in Syria. For these reasons the NCB agreed to send a signficant delegation to the conference led by Dr. Haytham Manna, the Deputy General Coordinator accompanied by the following: Abdulmajeed Manjooneh, Rajaa’ AlNasser, Ma’amoon Khaleefa, Saleh Muslim, Mohammed Hijazi, Dr. Hani Abu Saleh, Dr. Huda Al Zain, Fadel Ali, Abdulrahman Khaleefa, all of whom are leading members of the NCB in Syria or in exile. Read more