Friday 20 April 2012

April 20, 2012 by  
Filed under News, Syrian Revolution

Syrian Observatory for Human RightsOne person killed in the village of Hett in gunfire by the Syrian regular forces. At least 12 members of the Syrian regular forces killed during the explosion of a device in a vehicle transporting them in the village.

2 people killed in Rif Dimashq Governorate: one person killed in the town of Aqrabaa and one person killed in the village of Daff Al-Shooke in gunfire by the Syrian regular forces.

8 people killed in Homs Governorate. 5 people including a man, his wife and their son killed when a mortar hit their house in the neighbourhood of Al-Khaledia, one person killed in Al-Bayaada and one person killed in Al-Saffessafa. The other 3 people were killed in the city of Al-Qusaire.

One person was killed in gunfire by the Syrian regular forces in front of the mosque of Umar Ibn Al-Khattab in the city Al-Bab, in rural area of Aleppo, which had clashes.

Protests were held in several villages and towns in the governorates in Daraa, Damascus, Rif Dimashq, Homs, Hama, Idlib, Deir Ezzor and Al-Hasakah. The protesters called to topple the regime and the departure of the President Bashar Al-Assad regardless of the heavy presence of military and security forces, the shelling, gunfire and the arrests by the regular forces.

Earlier today, there was gunfire by the Syrian regular forces in the neighbourhood of Al-Sabonyya in Hama city.
… and more.

Syrian Uprising 2011 Information Centre: SUMMARY (20/04/2012): 57 martyrs have fallen today most of them in Homs, Idlib and Damascus, among them many women and kids. The killing, arrests, destruction and every criminal action committed by the regime didn’t stop hundreds of towns and cities from protesting across the country as you can see on the map. We think the numbers of protesters has increased compared with the last few weeks, and some new places have joined the revolution. We do believe in the slogan of the day – we will win and Assad will be defeated. Syria – Friday 20/04/2012 – Google Maps

NOW! Lebanon
[local time]
21:51 Four injured Syrian citizens were transferred into Lebanon across the North-East border, the National News Agency reported on Friday.
 21:36 The United States is warning allies to be prepared to increase pressure on Syria if UN envoy Kofi Annan’s plan for ending government attacks on the opposition fails, the State Department said Friday.
 21:06 Russia on Friday condemned as unacceptable a fresh round of sanctions being prepared by the European Union against the Syrian regime.
 20:17 Syrian security forces committed “massacres” in Homs’ Al-Khalidiya, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying on Friday.
19:30 Four people were killed by Syrian security forces in the city of Boukamal in Deir az-Zour, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
 19:16 Syrian security forces opened fire at an anti-regime protest in the Damascus neighborhood of Al-Zahira al-Jadida. (S.N.N)
 19:08 Syrian security forces heavily shelled the Homs neighborhood of Al-Jandala, Al-Arabiya reported on Friday.
 18:59 The Organization of Islamic Cooperation on Friday said that it would likely contribute observers to the UN mission in Syria.
 18:57 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday shows the funeral procession in Aleppo’s Al-Bab of two “martyrs of the Syrian revolution.”
 18:55 Thousands of Syrians took part in protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime on Friday, testing a shaky UN ceasefire, as state media said 18 security personnel were killed in attacks.
 18:51 Syrian security forces opened fire at a funeral procession in Damascus’ Aqarba, killing two people and injuring others. (S.N.N)
 18:38 Shabiha members attack protestors with knives in Damascus’ Al-Midane neighborhood. (S.N.N)
 18:32 Friday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 45 people, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
 18:10 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday shows an anti-regime protest in Al-Waar neighborhood of Homs.
 17:52 Three people were killed by Syrian security forces in the Damascus neighborhood of Daf al-Shawk, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying on Friday.
 17:51 An anti-regime protest kicked off in the Latakia town of Douwayraka. (S.N.N)
 17:49 Gunfire heard in Al-Khalidiya district of Homs amid heavy shelling by Syrian security forces. (S.N.N)
 17:41 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday in the Damascus neighborhood of Kfar Sousa shows anti-regime protesters chanting in support of the uprising and h0lding banners reading: “With [God’s] help we will be victorious.”
 17:34 Most communication lines in the Daraa province were cut off on Friday. (S.N.N)
17:30 Syrian security forces heavily shelled the Homs town of Al-Qusayr. (S.N.N)
 17:29 Casualties reported after Syrian security forces stormed Hama’s neighborhood of Al-Arbaeen, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying on Friday.
17:18 Anti-regime protests erupted in most of the towns and villages in the southern part of the district of Edleb. (S.N.N)
 17:14 Syrian security forces deployed heavily in Daraa. (S.N.N)
 17:07 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday in Syria’s Al-Raqqa shows anti-regime protesters chanting slogans in support of “Syria’s martyrs and its youth.”
 17:05 The Assad couple’s lifestyle is the next target of EU sanctions on the Syrian regime, with the bloc ready to ban exports of luxury items, diplomats said Friday.
 17:05 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday in Syria’s Deir az-Zour shows anti-regime protesters chanting slogans against former Syrian President Hafez al-Assad.
 16:43 An anti-regime protest started in the Edleb town of Kansafar. (S.N.N)
 16:40 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday in Syria’s Harasta shows anti-regime protesters chanting in support of the uprising saying: “[We’d rather embrace] death and not humiliation.”
 16:36 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday in Edleb’s Ariha shows anti-regime protesters chanting and dancing.
16:36 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday in Al-Bab city, in the vicinity of Othman mosque, shows anti-regime protesters chanting: “Freedom, freedom,  we want freedom, whether you like it or not [Syrian President] Bashar [al-Assad].”
16:33 A $180 million draft plan for delivering humanitarian aid for Syria’s one million needy has been drawn up and is awaiting the green light from Syria, the United Nations said on Friday.
 16:29 An anti-regime protest started in Edleb’s Saraqib. (S.N.N)
 16:21 Syrian forces on Friday raided Hama’s neighborhood of Kazo. (S.N.N)
 15:45 Friday’s death toll in Syria has reached 27 people, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
 15:20 Syrian forces opened fire on protesters in Al-Qadam neighborhood in Damascus leaving a number of people wounded, Al-Jazeera television reported.
 15:17 Telecommunication means were cut off in a number of areas in Daraa on Friday. (S.N.N)
15:17 Syrian forces on Friday opened fire on protesters in Daf al-Shawk in Damascus. (S.N.N)
 15:17 Syrian security forces kill seven people that were heading to an anti-regime protest in the town of Al-Rami in Edleb, Al-Jazeera reported on Friday.
 15:11 Syrian forces on Friday opened fire on anti-regime protesters in Al-Aasali in Damascus wounding a number of them. (Syrian Revolution)
15:05 Syrian forces on Friday raided Aleppo’s Salah el-Din neighborhood after anti-regime protests kicked off in the area. (Syrian Revolution)
15:04 Syrian forces on Friday surrounded Al-Musayrfa village in Daraa. (S.N.N)
 15:01  Syrian forces on Friday opened fire on protesters in Duma near Damascus. (S.N.N)
 14:51 An anti-regime protest started in Al-Sakhna mosque in Homs. (S.N.N)
14:50 An anti-regime protest started in the Aleppo neighborhood of Al-Achrafieh. (S.N.N)
 14:50 A YouTube video purportedly filmed in Aleppo’s Al-Mashhad neighborhood on Friday shows anti-regime protesters marching on a street and chanting in support of the Syrian uprising.
 14:50 A YouTube video purportedly filmed in the southern part of Al-Malaab in Hama on Friday shows anti-regime protesters marching on a street saying: “God we will carry out your order.”
14:45 The Syrian army on Friday opened fire on protesters in Arbaeen near Damascus. (S.N.N)14:44 An anti-regime protest kicked off in the Homs neighborhood of Al-Malaab al-Baladi. (S.N.N)
 14:44 Syrian forces on Friday killed three people in Aleppo’s Al-Bab. (S.N.N)
 14:42 A powerful blast killed 10 security force personnel in the southern Syrian region of Quneitra on Friday, state television reported, blaming the explosion on “terrorists.”
 14:40 Security forces killed a civilian in the town of Al-Bab near Aleppo, activists told Al-Jazeera.
 14:35 Syrian forces on Friday surrounded two mosques in Jadedat Artouz near Damascus and inspected some of the worshippers’ identification cards. (S.N.N)
 14:31 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday in Al-Mansouri mosque in Jablah shows anti-regime protesters chanting against the Syrian regime.
 14:31 An anti-regime protest kicked off in Al-Bouwayda, a town near Damascus. (S.N.N)
14:31 An anti-regime protest started in the town of Al-Joura outside Deir az-Zour. (S.N.N)
14:30 Syrian forces on Friday opened fire on protesters in the Al-Qousour neighborhood in Hama. (S.N.N)
14:30 A YouTube video purportedly filmed in Amouda shows anti-regime protesters chanting: “Where are the monitors, where are they?”
14:27 An anti-regime protest started in the village of Khatab in Hama, during which protesters burned the Russian, Chinese and Iranian flags. (S.N.N)
 14:23 Syrian security forces opened fire on protesters in Daraa al-Balad, activists told Al-Jazeera.
 14:22 A YouTube video purportedly filmed in the city of Boukamal in Deir az-Zour shows anti-regime protesters chanting against President Bashar al-Assad.
 14:21 Syrian security forces opened fire on people praying in the Rawda Mosque in Edleb, Al-Jazeera reported.
 14:20 Syrian forces on Friday surrounded Al-Fawaz Mosque in Al-Reqqa. (S.N.N)
14:19 An anti-regime protest started in Aleppo’s Bazaa. (S.N.N)
14:17 An anti-regime protest started in Damascus’ Mezzeh. (S.N.N)
14:16 Many people were injured by security forces’ gunfire in the Homs area of Tal al-Zahab in Houla, Al-Jazeera quoted activists on saying.
 14:14 An anti-regime protest started in Latakia’s Al-Haffa. (S.N.N)
 14:11 A YouTube video purportedly filmed in the village of  Al-Atarib near Aleppo shows anti-regime protesters chanting: “God is great, God is great,” and “The Syrian army is treacherous.”
14:10 An anti-regime protest kicked off in Aleppo’s Al-Sukkari neighborhood. (S.N.N)
 14:10 Anti-regime protests started in Latakia’s Nahiyat Kansaba. (S.N.N)
14:09 Syrian forces on Friday surrounded Daraa’s Al-Musayrfa neighborhood. (S.N.N)
 14:09 Syrian forces attacked protesters in Qamishli.  (S.N.N)
 14:08 Syrian security forces raided the Hama neighborhood of Al-Sabouniyeh, activists told Al-Jazeera.
 14:05 Syrian security forces surrounded the mosques in the town of Harasta near Damascus, activists told Al-Jazeera.
14:03 Syrian forces on Friday raided the eastern part of Al-Kerak village in Daraa, Al-Jazeera television reported.
 14:00 An anti-regime protest kicked off Friday in Edleb’s Binnish, Al-Jazeera television reported.
14:00 An anti-regime protest kicked off Friday in the Al-Zahera neighborhood of Damascus, Al-Jazeera television reported
 13:58 A YouTube video purportedly filmed in the Houran town of Al-Hara on Friday shows anti-regime protesters chanting: “O God the people are unarmed.”
 13:58 A YouTube video purportedly filmed in Jabal al-Zawiyeh shows anti-regime protesters chanting against President Bashar al-Assad, saying: “The hurricane has come for you.”
 13:54 An anti-regime protest started in Aleppo’s Deir Jamal. (S.N.N)
13:54 An anti-regime protest started in Yabroud near Damascus. (S.N.N)
13:53 An anti-regime protest started in Daraa’s neighborhood of Al-Sabeel. (S.N.N)
13:48 An anti-regime protest started in the Aleppo town of Masaken Hanano. (S.N.N)
13:48 An anti-regime protest started in Salaheddine area of Aleppo. (S.N.N)
13:47 An anti-regime protest started in the Al-Shaar neighborhood of Aleppo. (S.N.N)
13:47 An anti-regime protest started in Aleppo area of Taqad. (S.N.N)
 13:45 Al-Jazeera television is broadcasting live footage of an anti-regime protest in Hama.
13:45 Syrian forces are attacking protesters in Aleppo’s Al-Bab. (S.N.N)
13:40 Syrian forces are attacking anti-regime protesters in Latakia. (S.N.N)
13:39 An anti-Syrian regime protest started in Daraa’s Kherbet Ghazaleh. (S.N.N)
 13:39 An anti-regime protest started in Homs’ neighborhood of Al-Qousour. (S.N.N)
13:38 Syrian forces are shelling Homs’ Houla. (S.N.N)
13:37 An anti-regime protest started in the Baraza neighborhood of Damascus. (S.N.N)
13:34 Anti-regime protests started in the Daraa village of Basr al-Harir. (S.N.N)
13:30 Military reinforcements deployed Friday to bolster the Syrian regime’s forces in Harasta. (S.N.N)
 13:29 The death toll in Syria has risen to 11 people, activists told Al-Jazeera.
 13:25 An anti-regime protest kicked off in Al-Reqqa. (S.N.N)
 13:23 An anti-regime protest kicked off in Latakia. (S.N.N)
 13:22 Al-Arabiya is broadcasting live footage of a protest in the Daraa town of Harak.
 13:20 An anti-regime protest started in Daraa’s Yadouda. (S.N.N)
13:18 An anti-regime protest started in Hasaka’s Al-Shadadi. (S.N.N)
13:16 Syrian forces on Friday heavily deployed to Latakia. (S.N.N)
13:15 A YouTube video purportedly filmed in Damascus’ Al-Qaboun shows jubilant anti-regime protesters. One of the raised placards says: “The Security Council is still conspiring against the blood of the Syrian people.”
 13:15 Syrian forces killed three civilians in the Homs neighborhood of Al-Khaldiyeh, activists told Al-Jazeera.
 13:13 The European Union is preparing a fresh round of sanctions against the Syrian regime, banning exports of luxury items and goods which can be used for internal repression, diplomats said Friday.
 13:08 A YouTube video purportedly filmed in Damascus’ neighborhood of Al-Asali shows anti-regime protesters chanting in support of the Syrian uprising while they set ablaze a picture of Bashar al-Assad.
 13:08 Al-Arabiya is broadcasting live footage of a protest against the regime in Deir az-Zour.
 13:00 An anti-regime protest kicked off in Syria’s Al-Qahtaniya. (S.N.N)
 12:56 Syrian forces deployed to the Daraa town of Jassem on Friday. (S.N.N)
 12:55 Military reinforcements were sent to bolster the regime deployment in Damascus’ Al-Qaboun area. (S.N.N)
12:54 Al-Arabiya TV is broadcasting live footage of an anti-regime protest in Hasaka.
 12:50 Two explosions rocked Homs’ Houla. (S.N.N)
 12:49 Syrian forces deployed Friday to Daraa’s Al-Sahari. (S.N.N)
 12:49 Syrian forces deployed Friday to Al-Kaswa near Damascus. (S.N.N)
 12:30 Syrian forces on Friday surrounded a number of mosques in Damascus’ Nahr Aisha neighborhood. (Syrian Revolution)
 12:21 Six people were killed in Syria on Friday, activists told Al-Jazeera.
 12:21 A YouTube video purportedly filmed Friday in the Damascus area of Sayyeda Zaynab shows protesters marching on a street and carrying a number of placards. One of the posters says: “Bashar, no matter what you do… you will fall and we will triumph.”
 12:21 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday shows Homs’ Al-Khaldiyeh neighborhood being shelled.
 12:19 Syrian forces on Friday heavily deployed to Daraa’s Kfar Shams. (S.N.N)
 12:15 Syrian forces on Friday heavily deployed to Al-Sid Street in Daraa. (S.N.N)
 12:15 Syrian forces on Friday raided the town of Al-Zalaqiyat near Hama. (S.N.N)
 12:13 The internationally-backed ceasefire in Syria is in a fragile state and the situation on the ground is not good, a spokesperson for the plan’s architect Kofi Annan said on Friday.
 12:05 Al-Arabiya TV is broadcasting live footage of an anti-regime protest in Qamishli.
 11:59 French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe declared on Friday that the UN observer mission in Syria needs to be able to guarantee Syrians the freedom to protest against Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
 11:59 An anti-regime protest kicked off in the Al-Midan neighborhood of Damascus. Protesters voiced their support for the Free Syrian Army and called for toppling the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. (S.N.N)
 11:52 Syrian forces on Friday attacked protests that had started in Daraa al-Balad. (S.N.N)
 11:50 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday in the town of Beit Sahem near Damascus shows anti-regime protesters chanting against the Syrian regime and in support of the Free Syrian Army.
 11:30 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday in Damascus’ Al-Qadam neighborhood shows anti-regime protesters chanting in support of the uprising and against the Syrian regime. A  placard carried by one protesters says: “We do not give up. We either win or win.”
11:28 Gunfire was heard on Friday morning in Daraa village of Enkhel after Syrian forces raided the town. (S.N.N)
 11:28 Syrian forces have been shelling Homs’ Qusayr since Friday morning, killing and wounding a number of people. (S.N.N)
 11:19 An anti-regime protest titled “We will triumph and Assad will be defeated” started in the town of Beit Sahem near Damascus. (S.N.N)
 11:00 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday in the Arbaeen district of Damascus shows anti-regime protesters calling for President Bashar al-Assad to leave. One banner held aloft says: “Syria is bleeding.”
9:58 Russia said Friday a ceasefire was generally holding in Syria despite some violations and should be seen as an achievement that was saving the country from a broader civil war.
 9:48 The French presidential frontrunner, Francois Hollande, said Friday that he would support France joining a UN-sanctioned military intervention in Syria.
 7:14 US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta hosted Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak Thursday in their second Pentagon meeting in as many months as concern grows over Syrian unrest and Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
 7:06 Morning Leader: UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Thursday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was not fulfilling his commitment to a ceasefire and pressed the Security Council to approve an expanded observer mission in Syria. His remarks came as Western powers called for the observer mission to first be given freedom of movement before more monitors were dispatched.

REUTERS: More U.N. monitors heading to Syria as 13 people killed

An additional 30 United Nations monitors should arrive in Syria in the coming week to join an advance team of seven observing a fragile week-long ceasefire which has failed to end bloodshed in the country, a spokesman for envoy Kofi Annan said on Friday.

At least 23 people were killed, 10 of them in a roadside bomb targeting security forces and most of the others in shelling by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces on the city of Homs, further undermining the truce.

With Friday prayers a weekly flashpoint for unrest, the monitors decided to remain indoors, saying they wanted to avoid being “used as a tool for escalating the situation”. A day earlier they were mobbed by anti-Assad protesters on their initial forays around the country.

Peace envoy Kofi Annan’s deputy, former Palestinian foreign minister Nasser al-Kidwa, criticized both sides, but particularly government forces, for refusing to stop fighting completely.

“We don’t see much of a ceasefire,” he told France 24 television. “The situation of course is not good. There are many reasons to be worried by the lack of implementation, at least lack of full implementation by Syrian government and perhaps some other parties as well.”

Syria said 10 security personnel were killed in a roadside bomb in Sahm al-Golan in the southwest, as protests calling for the downfall of Assad broke out across the country, including in the capital Damascus.

Activists in the central city of Hama said people were wounded when security forces opened fire on protesters.

Several neighborhoods in the rebel stronghold of Homs were shelled, activists said, and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights in Syria said at least 13 people were killed, most of them in Homs.

300 MORE

The U.N. monitoring mission is seen as the last chance to avoid civil war in Syria where Assad sent tanks and troops to quell protests against his 12-year rule, which started peacefully a year ago but have taken a militarized turn.

Annan is hoping the U.N. Security Council will in the next two to three days agree to send a second wave of up to 300 more observers. His spokesman said the mission was being prepared.

“We are preparing for the deployment because we feel that it is going to happen sooner or later because it must happen,” spokesman Ahmad Fawzi told a news briefing in Geneva.

“The situation on the ground is not good,” he said.

The Security Council – divided between Western countries that want to topple Assad, and Russia and China which support him – must agree if the larger observer team is to be sent to help quell the violence that has killed thousands of people.

While Russia circulated a draft Security Council resolution to authorize the 300-strong unarmed ceasefire force, France said it was drafting another resolution that would allow a larger observer force, with up to 500 observers as well as helicopters.

China said it was willing to contribute members to the observer team in Syria.

“We are willing to send personnel to take part in the work of this team and the advanced team. We are now in consultations with the United Nations secretariat about the specific arrangements.” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin

He said the overall size of the monitoring effort would have to be settled by the Security Council and so could not say how big China’s contribution would be.

Top U.N. humanitarian official John Ging said he hoped Syria would grant permission in the coming days to send more aid workers to the country where at least 1 million people are in need of urgent assistance.

He told reporters in Geneva that Syria had recognized there were “serious humanitarian needs” and that action was required, but logistical issues and visas for aid workers are still being discussed.

On Thursday, Syria and the United Nations signed an agreement setting out the working conditions for hundreds of ceasefire observers.

The agreement stipulates “unfettered access” and freedom for monitors to travel and contact people within the framework of their mandate, Fawzi said.

(Additional reporting by Chris Buckley in Beijing, John Irish in Paris and Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

U.N. seeks Syria nod for major aid operation2:35pm EDT

The United Nations hopes to get permission from the Syrian government in the coming days to launch a major aid operation to help at least 1 million people affected by the country’s violence, a senior U.N. humanitarian official said on Friday.

Syria has recognized there are “serious humanitarian needs” and that action is needed, but logistical issues and visas for aid workers are still being discussed, said John Ging, director of operations of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“Now it’s a question of implementing those plans. This is where we are needing to mobilize more effective engagement with the Syrians to get that plan fully up and running,” Ging said.

It was important to get Syrian agreement on the plan, drawn up after an assessment mission carried out with Syrian officials last month, and to mobilize aid agencies for a “major humanitarian operation”, Ging added.

He spoke to reporters after aid agencies and donors met in Geneva to discuss a six-month, $180 million assistance plan to help an estimated 1 million people in Syria.

An advance team of 30 U.N. monitors is due to deploy in Syria in the coming week to monitor a fragile ceasefire that has so far failed to stop the bloodshed, more than a year after the start of an uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

EU SEEKS GUARANTEES

The aid plan aims to provide food and medical assistance, as well as kitchen sets for displaced families who have lost their homes and cash payments for those sheltering them, Ging said at the end of the Syrian Humanitarian Forum.

Separately, the U.N. refugee agency has appealed for $84 million for 60,000 Syrian refugees who have fled to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. But it has only received 19 percent of the funds, UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told a briefing.

The United States announced it was donating a further $8 million, mainly for food and emergency health care, taking its contribution to $33 million. Canada, China and Sweden also pledged funds at the talks, U.N. sources said.

Claus Sorensen, director-general of the European Union’s aid department ECHO, is seeking Syrian guarantees before pledging additional funds after an initial donation of 10 million euros.

“I need specifics before I can ask the European Parliament to release money. I need facts and need to be convinced it is feasible and is not diverted. I need to know to whom the aid is going because it is taxpayers’ money, not mine,” Sorensen told Reuters after the closed-door talks.

Radhouane Nouicer, U.N. regional humanitarian coordinator for Syria, is to lead the negotiations, an EU official said.

“Progress on the technical issues and details has to be made in Damascus,” he said, speaking on condition of not being named.

“We need visas and customs clearances to be operational and the authorization of access to drive around the country and open offices. The longer this takes the more difficult it becomes.”

The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) aims to double the number of people it was assisting in Syria this month to 200,000 from 100,000 in March, Ging said.

SYRIA SAYS “NO CRISIS”

Syria’s ambassador, Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui, attended the talks along with representatives of donor countries, ECHO, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the Arab League.

Hamoui said it had been a constructive meeting but accused some delegations of trying to politicize humanitarian aid.

“We are ready to cooperate but we hope they come to enter the house from the front door, not the window. We don’t have any crisis in Syria. It is not Somalia,” he told reporters.

Ging, asked about access in Syria, said: “That’s the central issue to what we are negotiating – access, capacity of humanitarian agencies and organizations on the ground.”

U.N. agencies have been largely shut out of Syria, where the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is the only international body to deploy aid workers. U.N. agencies have made some supplies available via the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.

The ICRC, in a statement issued on Friday, said that unrest in Syria continued to cause suffering and mass displacement.

“There is a continuous flow of people leaving their homes in search of a safe haven,” said Alexandre Equey, the ICRC’s deputy head of delegation in Syria. “While some have managed to move in with relatives, friends, or even strangers willing to lend a helping hand, others have had no choice but to take refuge in schools, mosques and churches.”

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

BBC: UN’s Ban says situation in Syria is ‘highly precarious’

The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said the situation in Syria remains “highly precarious”.

The UN has reached a preliminary deal with the Syrian government on rules governing the deployment of observers to monitor an agreed ceasefire.

Mr Ban said he has seen “troubling” evidence of ongoing violence.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for a global arms embargo and further sanctions if the government continues to break the ceasefire.

The BBC’s Ian Pannell in northern Syria reports seeing numerous breaches of the ceasefire over the last week.

Our correspondent says he saw a helicopter gunship firing on villages in the Jabel al-Zawiya area, killing at least two people.

‘Path to civil war’

Foreign ministers from the Friends of Syria coalition, meeting in Paris on Thursday evening, agreed that the ceasefire and Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan were the “last hope” of avoiding civil war in Syria.

Mrs Clinton called for a Security Council resolution to impose UN sanctions on Syria if President Bashar al-Assad blocked the monitors’ mission.

The Friends of Syria group includes Western and Arab nations, but not Russia or China, who have blocked previous attempts to introduce UN sanctions.

Mrs Clinton said she had met her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, earlier in the day, and he recognised that the situation in Syria was “deteriorating”.

The French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said that if the UN-backed peace plan failed, Syria would be “on the path to civil war”.

Mr Juppe warned the situation in Syria could spill out to the wider region, and said “several hundred” international monitors were needed.

Mr Ban stressed Syria’s responsibility to provide “unfettered access” and use of helicopters to the monitors, the first of whom arrived this week.

The agreement reached with Damascus does not include access to aircraft, according to the Reuters news agency.

It is also not clear how freely observers will be permitted to move around under the terms agreed with the Syrian authorities.

Mr Ban says he wants the UN observer mission to increased to 300, to be deployed over three months.

Some correspondents say the Security Council, which is not due to make a decision on the mission until next week, may be afraid to put unarmed observers on the ground if the situation continues to deteriorate.

The UN chief said such a deployment would not be without risk, but UN supervision, with a clear mandate and the right capacity, would contribute to improving the situation on the ground.

He also called on Syria to allow UN agencies to mount a “major humanitarian field operation”, which he said was needed to help the estimated one million people affected by the uprising.

‘Respecting sovereignty’

The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, an activist group, said fresh fighting on Thursday killed at least three people across the country.

There has also been further government shelling of parts of the third biggest city, Homs, the BBC’s Jim Muir reports from neighbouring Lebanon.

Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mekdad and a member of an advance team of observers, which arrived in the country earlier this week, signed the preliminary accord in Damascus, the Syrian foreign ministry said.

“This agreement comes within the framework of Syrian efforts aimed at making the Annan plan succeed and to facilitate the UN observer mission while respecting Syria’s sovereignty,” a statement said.

The office of Mr Annan confirmed an agreement had been signed, and said it was also having discussions with representatives of Syrian opposition groups.

“This agreement outlines the functions of the observers as they fulfil their mandate in Syria and the tasks and responsibilities of the Syrian government in this regard,” a statement said.

‘Opportunity’

In a report to the UN, Mr Ban said the Syrian government had not complied with the terms of the peace deal, but that there remained an “opportunity for progress”.

While violence had fallen at the time the truce came into effect on 12 April, it had escalated again in recent days, he said. Mr Ban said it was critical that the government kept its pledge to withdraw troops from populated areas.

He also noted that there had been “no significant release of detainees”, and “no substantive progress” in negotiations on humanitarian access, in reference to other aspects of Mr Annan’s six-point plan.

He said observers had been prevented from going to the city of Homs after the government cited “security concerns”. But observers were allowed to visit the town of Deraa freely.

Our correspondent says that while the trip to Deraa took place without incident, observers found themselves mobbed by protesters in the Damascus suburb of Arbeen.

Gunfire broke out and the observers had to get out, he says. Several demonstrators were injured, according to activists.

In his report, Mr Ban said: “The situation in Arbeen became tense when a crowd that was part of an opposition demonstration forced United Nations vehicles to a checkpoint.”

“Subsequently, the crowd was dispersed by firing projectiles. Those responsible for the firing could not be ascertained by the United Nations military observers.”

Ahead of the Friends of Syria meeting in Paris, President Sarkozy of France accused the regime of trying to wipe out Homs altogether, and called for the imposition of humanitarian “corridors” in Syria.

Also on Thursday, Britain announced that it was contributing £4m ($6.4) to a UN fund for humanitarian needs caused by the conflict, on top of more than £4m it has already disbursed.

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