Friday 31 August 2012
A United Nations human rights official today stressed that the Government of Syria and opposition forces can take concrete steps to protect civilians from the ongoing violence.“There are very concrete things that the parties can do to protect civilians, who as we all know are suffering in this situation,” said Georgette Gagnon, the Director of Human Rights for the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), which wrapped up its mandate last week.
“Both parties – but the Government in particular – have an obligation to protect civilians in this type of situation.”
In an interview with UN Radio, Ms. Gagnon stressed that the Government could prevent civilians from getting caught in the fighting by giving them enough warning to leave areas before military operations are carried out there.
“The Government could also ensure that the hospitals and the medical clinics are not militarized and not subject to attacks, and that everybody who needs medical care can get access to it in addition to other types of humanitarian assistance,” Ms. Gagnon said.
“On the opposition side, we would say that they must do more to protect civilians and ensure that they are not placing themselves in areas where there are lots of civilians, making the area more likely to be attacked by the Government.”
More than 18,000 people, mostly civilians, have died since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began nearly 18 months ago. There have been reports of an escalation in violence in recent weeks in many towns and villages, as well as the country’s two biggest cities, Damascus and Aleppo.
Ms. Gagnon said that civilians were particularly concerned about access to food, water, electricity, schooling and other types of medical services, especially in areas where the fighting has intensified such as the cities of Homs and Deir ez-Zor.
“It was very distressing to see cities such as Aleppo or suburbs around Damascus being the subject of helicopter bombardments and other types of aerial attacks,” Ms. Gagnon said. “Huge amounts of people are fleeing areas and living as internally displaced persons in school in very poor conditions.”
Earlier this month, the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry probing abuses committed during the country’s ongoing conflict, and working under a mandate from the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, issued a report which found that the Syrian Government and opposition forces have perpetuated war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Ms. Gagnon stressed that while both parties had committed human rights violations, it was important to make a distinction on the types of violations incurred by each party.
“We must be clear that the violations were different in scale, gravity and frequency and affecting civilians in different ways,” she said, adding that the Government’s use of heavy weapons in urban areas is affecting civilians “very seriously,” while opposition forces are detaining people illegally in some cases, and executing people who are alleged members of the Government.
As head of the UNSMIS human rights team, Ms. Gagnon met with Government officials, civil society members, community leaders and members of the armed opposition. Initially set up in April for 90 days, the Mission’s mandate was extended by the Security Council until 20 August.
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights:Final death toll for Friday 31/8/2012: More than 140 Syrians have been killed
-In Homs Province 8 civilians were killed. 1 was shot by sniper fire in the Karam al-Shami neighbourhood. 2 civilian died effected by in
-In Reef Dimashq Province 25 civilians were killed. 9 was shot and killed by regime fire in the towns of Kafarbatna, Saqba, al-Ebada, and al-Maliha. 5 died in the Hamurya town, 4 during bombardment, and the other effected by injuries he received during bombardment earlier. 4 civilians were killed in the city of Douma, 2 by the bombardment on the city, 2 by regime fire. The bodies of 4 civilians were found killed in the A’in Tarma town in Reef Dimashq, they were detained by Syrian regime forces. 3 were killed by bombardment on the Misraba town in Reef Dimashq.
-In Aleppo Province 11 civilians were killed. 2 civilians, 1 still unidentified, were killed by a sniper and by the bombardment. 9 civilians, including a woman and 2 children, were killed during bombardment on the al-Bab city in Reef Aleppo.
**3 unidentified bodies were found in the Saif al-Dawla neighbourhood of Aleppo**
-In Idlib Province 9 civilians were killed. A civilian woman was killed by bomabrdment on the Bzeit village. 1 died effected by injuries he received during clashes with regime forces in the Areeha city several days ago. 1 civilain was killed by the bombardment on the Kafaryahmoul town. 6 civilians were killed by bombardment on the villages surrounding the Abu al-Zuhur town in Reef Idlib.
-In Damascus Province 15 civilians were killed. 2 children and a civilian man were killed by bombardment on the Hajar al-Aswad neighbourhood. The bodies of 4 civilians were found in the Jobar neighbourhood; 6 civilians were summarily executed in the neighbourhood. 1 civilian from the neighbourhood of al-Midan was found killed in the Zamalka town in Reef Dimashq. 1 civilian from the Jobar neighbourhood was killed by regime fire in the town of Ein Terma, Reef Dimashq.
-In Hama Province 5 civilian men (aged between 30 and 50) from the Kreim village of Sahle al-Ghab were found today after pro-regime armed men kidnapped them 2 days ago.
-In Dera’a Province 6 civilians were killed. 1 was killed by sniper fire in the al-Jeeza town. 1 was shot at a military checkpoint in the al-Na’eema town. 1was killed by bombardment on the Kharbat Ghazala town at midnight of Thursday-Friday. 1 civilian from the Jasem town was killed in the city of Damascus. 1 civilain from the town of Namir was killed in the Tadamun neighbourhood of Damascus. 1 civilian died of earlier wounds in the town of Busra al-Sham.
- In Deir Izzor Province 9 civilians were killed. 6 were killed in the city if Deir Izzor, 1 by sniper fire in the al-Jbeila neighbourhood, 1 effected by injuries he received by regime forces gunfire in the al-A’rdi neighbourhood; 4 civilians, including a woman, were killed by the bombardment on the al-Erfi and al-Joura neighbourhoods. 1 civilians died effected by wounds he received by regime forces gunfire in the city of al-Bukamal. 2 civilains were killed by the bombardment on the villages of al-Bgheiliya and al-Mheimadiya, Reef Deir Izzor.
-In Hasakah province 2 civilians were killed. 2 civilians from the province were found dead in the town of Ya’foor, Reef Dimashq, the circumstances of their death are still unknown.
***Information has been received about tens of dead and injured as a result of gunfire in the Ein Terma town in Reef Dimashq. According to witnesses from the area, dead bodies were found near the Najeeb Hospital.***
20 Rebel fighters:
Homs Province: 13 fighters were killed. 10 were killed during clashes with regime forces in the Bab Hud, al-Khalidiya, and Bab Sba’ neighbourhoods. 3 were killed during clashes with regime forces in the Abel town in Reef Homs.
Aleppo Province: 6 fighters were killed. 5 rebels, including a commander, were killed during clashes with regime forces in the Salah al-Deen, Saif al-Dawla and al-Marja neighbourhoods, city of Aleppo. 1 was killed by bombardment on the al-Bab city in Reef Aleppo.
Reef Dimashq Province: 1 fighter died, effected by injuries he received by regime forces gunfire in the Harasta town.
2 defected soldiers were killed during clashes in Homs and Reef Dimashq, and a defected sergeant was killed during clashes in Aleppo.
No less than 29 regime forces were killed during clashes in Aleppo, Homs, Reef Dimashq, and Idlib.
[local time] 22:11 A Syrian brigadier general and six of his bodyguards were killed in Damascus, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
21:46 Friday’s death toll in Syria increased to 75 people, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
21:38 The regime forces and the rebels are clashing near the Hamdan Military Airport in Abu Kamal, Al-Arabiya reported.
21:31 The Free Syrian Army took control of the air defense battalion in the town of Abu Kamal, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
21:05 Syrian rebels detained nine army troops in Damascus, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
20:43 The Free Syrian Army shot down a forth helicopter on Friday in the Edleb town of Abu al-Zohur, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
20:32 Russia on Friday repeated a call for an immediate end to the violence in Syria in a statement issued a day after the UN Security Council discussed the humanitarian crisis in the strife-torn country.
20:10 Canada expanded sanctions against Syria Friday, praised Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi for slamming Syria’s regime as “oppressive” and warned Russia over its support for Syria.
19:49 Rebels shot down a helicopter in the Edleb town of Sermeen, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
19:08 The death toll in Syria increased to 67 people killed by security forces, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
17:43 Syria’s Friday death toll rose to 53 victims, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
16:43 More than 100 Turkish journalists on Friday staged a protest to demand the release of two Turkish reporters reportedly being held by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
16:43 Sweden said Friday it would donate 2.99 million euros, ($3.7 million) to the UN refugee agency to help the humanitarian aid effort in Syria.
16:36 Syrian forces raided the Daraa town of Naimeh, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
16:05 An anti-regime protest began in Bazaa near Aleppo. (S.N.N.)
16:00 An anti-regime protest began in Hama’s Aleppo Street. (S.N.N.)
15:56 Regime warplanes are heavily bombing the town of Abu al-Zohur, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
15:23 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday shows people protesting against the regime in Kafr Nabel. Protesters are chanting in support of the Free Syrian Army.
15:17 Syrian civilians are living in a constant state of fear, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Friday, warning of a fast deteriorating humanitarian situation across large parts of the country.
15:07 Syrian forces shelled the Daraa town of Naimeh, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
15:05 Anti-regime protests began in Jarables near Aleppo and in Aleppo’s neighborhood of Masken Hanano. (S.N.N.)
15:04 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday shows people protesting against the regime in Daraa’s Kherbet Ghazleh.
15:03 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday shows people protesting against the regime in Duma. Protesters are chanting for overthrowing the regime.
15:02 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday shows people protesting against the regime in Harasta.
14:51 UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Friday told Syria’s prime minister in Tehran on Friday that fighting must stop in Syria “with the primary responsibility resting on the government to halt its use of heavy weapons.”
14:50 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday shows anti-regime demonstrators carrying banners and chanting slogans against President Bashar al-Assad in Talbisseh.
14:47 Syrian security forces opened fire on an anti-regime protest in the town of Al-Damir in the Damascus district. (S.N.N.)
14:44 An anti-regime protest kicked off in the main street of the town of Qodsiyya in the Damascus district. (S.N.N.)
14:40 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday shows anti-regime demonstrators in Douma chanting in support of the town of Daraya which witnessed the killing of hundreds of civilians last week.
14:34 Syrian regime forces shelled the town of Al-Damir in the Damascus district, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
14:27 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday shows an anti-regime demonstration near a mosque in Daraa’s Kherbet al-Ghazaleh.
14:24 An anti-regime protest took place in the town of Yalda in the Damascus district calling for freedom and the fall of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. (S.N.N.)
14:16 Syrian security forces opened fire on an anti-regime demonstration in the neighborhood of Al-Fayhaa in Hama. (S.N.N.)
14:16 A bomb went off near the mosque of Al-Rahma in Al-Qousour neighborhood in Hama.
14:08 An anti-regime protest took place following Friday prayers in the neighborhood of Bab Qabli in Hama. (S.N.N.)
14:07 An anti-regime protest kicked off near Al-Farouq mosque in Homs’ Al-Ghawta neighborhood. (S.N.N.)
14:05 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Friday shows people protesting against the regime in Qamishli.
14:04 Al-Arabiya is broadcasting live images showing an anti-regime protest in the Al-Hajar al-Aswad neighborhood of Damascus.
14:00 Friday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 33 people, Al-Arabiya television quoted activists as saying.
13:59 An anti-regime protest in support of the Syrian towns of Daraya, Deir az-Zour and Homs kicked off in the town of Yabroud in the Damascus district. (S.N.N.)
13:58 Several anti-regime demonstrations took place in Al-Hasaka. (S.N.N.)
13:57 Syrian regime forces shelled the Khaled Ben al-Walid mosque in Basra al-Sham in Daraa, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
13:53 An anti-regime demonstration kicked off near the Al-Qamishli mosque in support of the rebels of the Free Syrian Army. (S.N.N.)
13:51 Several anti-regime protests kicked off in Homs’ Al-Houla calling for the fall of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. (S.N.N.)
13:50 Syrian forces shelled Deir az-Zour’s neighborhoods of Al-Jabyleh and Al-Hamidieh, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
13:46 Anti-regime protests took place near the mosques of the town of Harasta in the Damascus district. (S.N.N.)
13:41 An anti-regime protest kicked off in the town of Kfar Rouma in Edleb. (S.N.N.)
13:37 The United States and Israel are responsible for the conflict scorching Syria by “flooding weapons” to rebels there, the supreme leader of Iran – the main ally of Syria’s regime – said on Friday.
13:27 An anti-regime protest began in Daraa’s neighborhood of Al-Kashef. (S.N.N.)
13:27 Heavy shelling, coinciding with Friday prayers, targeted Dael in Daraa, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
13:27 An anti-regime protest began in Daraa’s neighborhood of Al-Qousour. (S.N.N.)
13:25 An anti-regime protest began in Daraa’s town of Al-Yaduda. (S.N.N.)
13:22 Clashes broke out between Syrian regime forces and rebels in Daraa’s Enkhel, Al-Jazeera television reported.
13:14 The town of Basra al-Sham in Daraa was shelled by Syrian regime forces, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
12:45 One person was killed and others wounded in the shelling of the Homs town of Rastan, Al-Jazeera television quoted activists as saying.
12:40 Friday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 26 people, most of them killed in Homs and Daraa, Al-Jazeera television quoted activists as saying.
12:11 Al-Arabiya is broadcasting live footage of renewed shelling of South Syria’s Daraa.
11:55 Syrian regime forces raided Daraa al-Balad and burned down a number of homes, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
11:16 Syrian regime forces killed 18 people on Friday, Al-Arabiya television quoted the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as saying.
11:15 Turkey will keep up its diplomatic efforts to protect refugees within Syrian territory, despite the lack of an agreement at the UN Security Council.
10:13 Syrian rebels attacked a security service building in Aleppo early Friday as clashes rocked both the main northern city and the outskirts of Damascus.
9:00 MORNING LEADER: War-torn Syria’s frustrated neighbor Turkey demanded on Thursday that world powers set up refugee camps within Syria to stem the massive outflow of refugees fleeing the fighting. Syrian rebels, meanwhile, claimed to have downed a regime jet as ministers met at the UN to seek ways to deal with a looming humanitarian catastrophe.
07:57 American freelance journalist Austin Tice, whose whereabouts in Syria were unknown for more than two weeks, is being held by the Syrian government.
Reuters: Civilians face dramatically worsening conditions in Syria: GENEVA – Syrian civilians’ living conditions are worsening dramatically, as it becomes harder to obtain food and escape fighting which caused a record death toll of 1,600 in the past week, aid agencies said on Friday.
U.N. presses Syria to allow more access to aid: DUBAI – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday he had pressed the Syrian government to allow international aid workers more access, and received a positive reply.
Assad’s foes need safe haven in Syria: Kodmani: PARIS – Opponents of President Bashar al-Assad need a foreign-protected safe haven in Syria if they are to form a credible transitional authority, a Syrian opposition figure said on Friday. [Comment - no mention of Kurds here!]
• The UN security council has been discussing a Turkish call to create a safe haven inside Syria for people fleeing the conflict. However, the security council seems unlikely to agree.
Meanwhile, France has announced plans to support “liberated zones” inside Syria – though it is unclear how these might be protected.
• UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has told Syria that fighting must stop, “with the primary responsibility resting on the government to halt its use of heavy weapons”.
• Rebel fighters have been attacking security compounds and bases in and around Aleppo. Activists have told AP this is part of “a major operation”.
• The father of American journalist Austin Tice, who went missing in Syria earlier this month, has said he believes his son is alive.The Committee to Protect Journalists says there is “a strong indication” that Tice is being held by the Syrian government.
• Syrian civilians’ living conditions are worsening dramatically and it is becoming harder to obtain food and other basic needs, the International Committee of the Red Cross said today.
• Etihad, the UAE airline, has suspended flights from Abu Dhabi to Damascus because of “the deteriorating security position”.